Review of 48th Conference of Irish Geographers 2016
The Annual Conference of Irish Geographers took place from the 5th-7th of May 2016 at St. Patrick's /DCU Drumcondra. A brief overview of the conference by Eoin O' Mahony is available below.There has been much change within Irish higher education in the last decade. Departments became Schools, lecturers became associate professors. In a last public act before final incorporation in September, the geography department of St Patrick's College hosted the annual Conference of Irish Geographers. From then, St Patrick's will be no more, becoming fully a part of the new DCU. The university gets a new school of History and Geography. This change was partially reflected in the conference because the college hosted it. It remains the Society's annual conference.
The theme for this conference was 'Memory, identity and landscape - geographical perspectives', echoing the commemoration of the 1916 Rising but remaining contemporary. Much like the state and popular acts of commemoration, there was great variety. Sessions ranged from art and geography to flood risk management with more than a mixture of human, environmental and physical geographies in between. This reflects not only the broad range of interests within geography in Ireland but the continuing vibrancy of research and teaching activities among the Society's modest membership.
There is a lasting theme now within this annual meeting and that is the ongoing economic and social crisis that made itself manifest in 2007/08. Geographers in Ireland have been to the forefront of critically assessing its causes and results. This conference reflected this currency with themes on urban geography and the social geographies of the intertwined crises. Beyond this however, there were many papers which sought to uncover new ideas such as examining street harassment, the struggles of heritage management and the outcomes of flood risk.
The 48th conference invited two excellent keynote speakers, both from outside of an Irish context. Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, London) spoke provocatively of geography’s creative re-turn. She outlined five possibilities for how this re-turn might be understood. Her address challenged participants to integrate these possibilities into all aspects of the academic's work. The following afternoon, Nigel Roulet (McGill) demonstrated the links between Ireland and Canada in its uses of peatland, carbon and climate change. Roulet reminded us that land use change, as much as fossil fuel use, brings forward significant change in global climate.
The Conference continued to introduce novel sessions including an author meets critics session and a more applied session on graduate funding, writing and employment challenges. At the conference dinner, the Society bestowed its Lifetime Contribution to the GSI to Prof. Annegret Simms. The other award winners on the night were:
GSI Postgraduate Fieldwork/Travel Award:
Sander van Lanen, UCC supervised by Dr Denis Linehan
Eimear Heaslip, NUIG supervised by Dr Frances Fahy
GSI Book of the Year Award
Jenkins, W. (2013)
Between Raid and Rebellion: The Irish in Buffalo and Toronto,McGill-Queens University Press.
GSI Lifetime Contribution to the Society
Professor Emeritus Anngret Simms, University College Dublin
As is usual, the conference was closed with the Society's annual general meeting. The Society's annual conference is hosted on the next occasion by UCC.