Eoin McNamee takes up inaugural Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Chair
Posted on: 31 July 2023
As holder of the inaugural Maxeke-Robinson Chair, Professor McNamee will give a keynote lecture entitled ‘Sequins, Pearls and Amobarbital: the Border in Ireland as Unconcluded Space’, at the CHR’s celebrated international Winter School in August 2023.
Renowned novelist, lecturer and screenwriter Eoin McNamee, Director of the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish and Creative Writing, is to take up the inaugural Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Chair at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa.
The prestigious research Chair, which is named in honour of South African educationalist Charlotte Maxeke and Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson, was announced by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute and the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at UWC in March 2023. It emerges from a long-standing research collaboration between the two institutions and builds on visiting fellowships previously held by distinguished scholars including Premesh Lalu and Jane Ohlmeyer.
Through funding support from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, this initiative to bring scholars and artists from Ireland to Southern Africa has been spearheaded by the Irish Ambassador to South Africa, Fionnuala Gilsenen, and jointly shaped by the Directors of the two research institutions, Professor Heidi Grunebaum at the CHR and Professor Eve Patten of the Trinity Long Room Hub.
The Chair will facilitate a broad and reciprocal collaboration between Ireland and South Africa to address, through the creative arts and humanities, a complex inheritance of colonialism, empire, partition and apartheid. Key themes will include the arts and archives of post-partition societies, technology and the human, society and aesthetic education, poetics and post-partition futures, and new models of reconciliation in the wake of conflict.
Professor McNamee is an esteemed Irish author and lecturer in Trinity’s School of English and Oscar Wilde Centre. Born in Kilkeel, County Down, he studied Law at Trinity before becoming a writer, with legal contexts continuing to inform his creative explorations of a Northern Irish history. He has written seventeen novels including Resurrection Man, The Ultras, The Blue Trilogy and The Vogue. His latest novel, The Bureau, will be published in 2024. Professor McNamee, who also writes regularly for cinema, television and radio, has won the Imison Prize, the Kerry Fiction Prize, and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, among many other awards, and has been longlisted for the Booker Prize.
As holder of the inaugural Maxeke-Robinson Chair, Professor McNamee will give a keynote lecture entitled ‘Sequins, Pearls and Amobarbital: the Border in Ireland as Unconcluded Space’, at the CHR’s celebrated international Winter School in August 2023. He will also work with a wide range of scholars, students and artists across South Africa during his residency.
On 17 July, during his visit to South Africa, Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin (below) delivered a lecture to inaugurate the Charlotte Maxeke – Mary Robinson Research Chair and open an exhibition on 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Tánaiste said the Government of Ireland was “proud and pleased” to support the new Research Chair which would draw on the “close historical ties” between Ireland and South Africa. He welcomed the fact that the Charlotte Maxeke – Mary Robinson Chair was established in an Irish university known for its resistance to apartheid, noting that Trinity had hosted the South African politician and UWC academic Kader Asmal, founder of the Irish anti-apartheid movement, as Professor in Law and Human Rights during his 27-year exile in Ireland.
The Tánaiste also alluded to the way both countries’ “histories have intertwined at crucial moments” as he spoke about the “shared experiences” of colonialism, struggle and “challenge.” He expressed
his hope that the new Research Chair will “promote greater understanding of Irish history, culture and literature” and “valuable academic exchanges.”
Following the Tánaiste’s lecture, Irish Ambassador to South Africa, Fionnuala Gilsenen, said of the launch of the Research Chair: “as I finish my period in South Africa it’s something that I’m particularly proud of and I’m really proud that it’s here in the University of the Western Cape that still plays such a large part in people’s imagination about what’s possible even in the most difficult of circumstances.”
The Trinity Long Room Hub is committed to raising additional funds to bring scholars and artists from South Africa to Ireland for the next phase of the Research Chair partnership, and is pleased to announce that thanks to a generous donation, the reciprocal research programme will now begin.
Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Professor Eve Patten, hailed this first phase of the Charlotte Maxeke – Mary Robinson Chair as a “significant milestone towards consolidating important research links between the two countries and expanding on their intellectual and cultural relationship”. She added that “many people are to be thanked for their contribution to this initiative, which promises to further our understanding of colonial legacies and the function of the artist in post-conflict society”
Aoife King firstname.lastname@example.org