GENEAOLOGIES OF MEMORY: PANDEMICS, FAMINES AND INDUSTRIAL DISASTERS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, NOVEMBER 2023
I am an appointed member of the Scientific Council of the ‘Institute of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity’, involving co-organising this event which took place in Warsaw in November 2023.
FOOD POVERTY ACROSS IRELAND: PAST, CURRENT AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES, MAY 2023
In May 2023, I co-organised an interdisciplinary symposium with Ulster University's Schools of Medicine, Sport and History which addressed, from interdisciplinary perspectives, issues relating to access to food in Irish culture. The event was co-organised with Conor Heffernan and Rhianne Morgan.
Podcast recordings of this event cab be found here: https://shows.acast.com/food-poverty-across-ireland-past-current-and-future-perspect
EUROPEAN SOCIAL SCIENCE HISTORY CONFERENCE: HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT STRAND, APRIL 2023
For the 2023 European Social Science History Conference, I co-chaired, with Dr Ida Milne, the Health and Environment strand. The event took place in April 2023 at University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
HSTM NETWORK IRELAND INAUGURAL CONFERENCE, MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY, OCTOBER 2019
In 2019, I once again co-organised the annual HSTM Network Ireland conference, alongside Eugenie Scott (UU), Ruth Coon (UU), Michael Kinsella (UU) and Lauren Young (QUB).The HSTM Network Ireland fosters research, teaching and public engagement in the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) in Ireland. It brings together researchers based in Ireland and welcomes overseas members with relevant interests. We aim to raise the profile of HSTM in Ireland and link Irish-based researchers to an international community of scholars. The Network’s inaugural conference promoted awareness of archival sources for HSTM on the island and advocated HSTM as a subject at all levels of education.
FOOD ANXIETIES IN 20TH-CENTURY BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ULSTER UNIVERSITY, 7 APRIL 2017
In 2017, I co-convened (with Dr Bryce Evans, Liverpool Hop[e University) a one-day conference on post-war dietary anxieties in Britain and Ireland. The twentieth century saw mounting anxiety about what we eat. In the west, obesity rates rose, the popularity of ‘junk food’ raised concerns about dietary health, and constant food scares caused deep unease. The changing epidemiological structure of western societies meant that people were more likely to live longer but suffer from chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease linked by medical scientists to poor dietary choices. This workshop explored the various anxieties that surrounded food in 20th-century Britain and Ireland. It asked: In what ways were diet, health and illness linked? Was nutritional advice scientifically objective or moralising in nature? How did consumers interpret the diverse messages emanating from experts? In what ways did new medical discourses on ideal weight stigmatise the obese? Did the new diets of an increasingly multicultural society raise health concerns? And how much attention did consumers and patients actually pay to changing warnings about over-eating and negative nutrition?
HUNGER STRIKING AND MEDICAL ETHICS: HISTORICAL AND MODERN PERSPECTIVES, ULSTER UNIVERSITY, 20 JANUARY 2015
In January 2015, I organised a one-day symposium, supported by the Wellcome Trust, which provided the first interdisciplinary forum for historians, sociologists and medical ethicists to debate together on hunger strike management. Since the suffragette hunger campaign of 1909-14, prison doctors have been obliged to force-feed protesting prisoners or oversee their self-starvation. At this symposium, leading international experts on ethics and hunger strike management explored the complex ethical dilemma invoked by prison hunger striking in contexts including Militant suffragette imprisonments, Irish War of Independence and Civil War and Troubles-period Northern Ireland. As part of the event, Belfast-based documentary makers Fine Point Films recorded and interviewed conference attendees for their documentary Bobby Sands: 1981.
HSTM NETWORK IRELAND INAUGURAL CONFERENCE, MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY, 13-14 NOVEMBER 2015
In 2015, I organised the inaugural HSTM Network Ireland conference at Maynooth University alongside Dr Ida Milne (Queen's University Belfast) and Adrian Kirwan (Maynooth University). The HSTM Network Ireland fosters research, teaching and public engagement in the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) in Ireland. It brings together researchers based in Ireland and welcomes overseas members with relevant interests. We aim to raise the profile of HSTM in Ireland and link Irish-based researchers to an international community of scholars. The Network’s inaugural conference promoted awareness of archival sources for HSTM on the island and advocated HSTM as a subject at all levels of education.
MEDICINE, HEALTH AND IRISH EXPERIENCES OF WAR, 1914-45, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, 6-7 DECEMBER 2012
In 2012, I organised a two-day conference on medicine, health and Irish experiences of war between 1914 and 1945 (with Dr David Durnin, University College Dublin). The role of Ireland in both the First and Second World Wars has attracted increasing levels of scholarly attention in recent years. Although Ireland remained neutral during the Second World War – ‘the Emergency’ – international conflict had immediate consequences for Irish social and economic life. There has been a significant growth of historical interest regarding the impact of war on Ireland and its effects on Irish politics, commerce and society. Nonetheless, further scope for inquiry exists. In particular, the role of medicine and health during these two critical periods remains remarkably undeveloped in relation to Ireland. This workshop unravelled Irish medical and health experiences in these two defining periods of worldwide conflict. As well as exploring how warfare impacted upon the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the Irish populace, it examined how Irish medical, scientific and official communities operated in relation to both physical and mental health.
HISTORY, DIGESTION AND SOCIETY: NEW PERSPECTIVES, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, 30 APRIL-1 MAY 2010
In 2010, I organised a conference on history and digestion at UCD. Diet and digestion, and associated topics, have been relatively neglected in histories of the body, health and medicine. We have a limited historical context in which to locate the diseases and ailments of the digestive system, such as dyspepsia or peptic ulcer disease, not to mention processes such as vomiting. Meanwhile, historical analysis of issues related to food and eating often reveals a tendency to stress the political elements of historical events at the expense of the biological and medical. Topics such as hunger strikes, and the rise of organised movements such as the Temperance movement and organised vegetarianism have complex medical and biological aspects which are worthy of serious analytical attention. This workshop acted as a platform to discuss and critically engage with these themes.