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The Hublic Sphere Podcast

The Hublic Sphere is a new podcast series created and produced by early career researchers at the Trinity Long Room Hub in Trinity College Dublin. The title reflects our desire to further the mission of the Trinity Long Room Hub ("the Hub") in bringing aspects of our Arts and Humanities research in Trinity to the public in this new ‘Hublic’ space. The world around us has never been more complicated, and we believe the humanities should play a role in understanding it. We bring you interviews with academics, practitioners and activists, and discussions that help uncover new answers to urgent questions. Find out more about the Hublic Sphere team here

The Trinity Long Room Hub is committed to supporting Trinity's Arts and Humanities research community, this podcast is part of its Public Humanities Programme.

Welcome to Season One: ‘Power’

Episode One:
When Old Streets Speak: In Conversation with the Friends of Medieval Dublin

By: Dawn Seymour Klos


In this episode, Dawn Seymour Klos talks with Dr Caoimhe Whelan and Dr Sparky Booker about the Friends of Medieval Dublin and the representation of the Middle Ages in popular media and western politics.

Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Dr Caoimhe Whelan

Dr Caoimhe Whelan is a Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts and Humanities Research Institute of Trinity College Dublin. Her research explores the history, heritage, literature and culture of Ireland, and she is currently researching the Arts and Humanities interface with policy at the Trinity Long Room Hub. She has held a number of research fellowships, including postdoctoral and postgraduate fellowships from the Irish Research Council, and most recently, a research fellowship from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the Trinity Long Room Hub exploring the history of Ireland in a global context, the diaspora and public history. She is the Honorary Secretary of the Friends of Medieval Dublin.

Dr Sparky Booker

Sparky Booker is a lecturer in Medieval Irish History at Queen's University Belfast. Her research looks at the social, cultural and legal history of late medieval Ireland, with a particular focus on the English colony in Ireland. Her work has examined the experiences of women, the Irish, and other legally disadvantaged groups in the colony. Other research interests include marriage, sumptuary law, the Irish church and the Irish in Rome in the later middle ages. Some of this research has been published in books and journals including Irish Historical Studies and Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, as well as in a monograph in Cambridge University's Press' 'Studies in Medieval Life and Thought' series and entitled Cultural Exchange and Identity in Late Medieval Ireland: The English and Irish of the Four Obedient Shires (2018). This monograph was awarded the Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Books and the James S Donnelly, Sr., Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences by the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS). Sparky has been a member of the Friends of Medieval Dublin since 2009 and co-founded the Tales of Medieval Dublin lecture series and co-edited the resulting volume Tales of Medieval Dublin.

Episode Two:
Justice for Magdalenes: Reflections on Power

By: Dr Clare Moriarty

Content Warning: This podcast refers to sexual violence, institutional abuse and wrongful imprisonment that may be distressing to some listeners.


In this episode, Dr Clare Moriarty talks to three leading scholars of carceral institutions in recent Irish history. The guest speakers include Claire McGettrick, Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar, UCD Sociology and Co-Founder of Justice for Magdalenes Research/Adoption Rights Alliance, Katherine O’Donnell, Associate Professor, History of Ideas, UCD School of Philosophy, and Maeve O’Rourke, Lecturer & Director of Human Rights Law Clinic, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway.

They discuss the season’s theme, ‘Power,’ in the context of issues relating to gender and Irish institutions, private contracts for so-called “care” schemes and the power of education and personal narrative. They also address the relationships between academia, advocacy and activism.

Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Maeve O’Rourke

Maeve O’Rourke is Lecturer in Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR). She is Programme Director of the BCL Law and Human Rights, a newly established undergraduate degree programme at NUI Galway. She is also Director of the LLM Human Rights Law Clinic at the ICHR. Since 2010 Maeve has provided pro bono assistance to ‘Justice for Magdalenes’ and she is currently a member of the research group ‘Justice for Magdalenes Research'. She is co-director of the evidence-gathering initiative with Hogan Lovells LLP, ‘Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data’. Maeve is a barrister at 33 Bedford Row, London, and she is a registered Attorney at Law in New York. Twitter: @maeveorourke

Katherine O'Donnell

Katherine O'Donnell is an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin where, among other subjects, she teaches Feminism and Gender Justice. Katherine was a co-founding member of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Archive: the IQA, now safely deposited as a living archive with the National Library of Ireland and she currently works with Justice for Magdalenes Research, collecting oral histories of witnesses from the Magdalene Laundries. Twitter: @Ka_ODonnell

Claire McGettrick

Claire McGettrick is an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar at the School of Sociology in University College Dublin. Her PhD research is a sociological examination of the bodies of expert knowledge on adoption. It is investigating how and why adopted adults and children have been classified and defined as objects of knowledge and as categories of administration. The study is also examining how adoption activists in the Republic of Ireland have engaged with the bodies of expert knowledge on adoption.

Claire is also an adopted person and survivors' rights advocate. She is co-founder of Justice for Magdalenes Research and Adoption Rights Alliance. She coordinates the Magdalene Names Project, which has recorded the details of over 1,900 women who lived and died behind laundry walls.

Claire also jointly coordinates the Clann Project with Dr Maeve O'Rourke. The Clann Project provides free statement-drafting assistance to witnesses who wish to give evidence to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation in Ireland. Twitter: @cmcgettrick

Episode Three:
Childhood Books: The Power(s) of Rereading

By: Siobhán Callaghan


In this episode, I speak to Dr Alison Waller about the powerful act of rereading books from childhood. Alison is the author of Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics (2019), in which she explores what it means to return to texts from our childhood and develops a new model for understanding lifelong reading.

For many of us, the events of the past year have challenged how we perceive the passage of time. In our discussion, Alison and I explore how and why we return to the same texts throughout our lifespans. Alison tells me what first kindled her interest in rereading and how readers make memories of texts and shares the methodology that she used to undertake this work. We discuss the powerful emotions that can arise during the rereading experience, and Alison explains the particular “rereading attitudes” that she uncovered over the course of her research. Alison has also applied her expertise on rereading in a co-creative project, working with Gemma Seltzer and Wallis Eates on “Lifelong Reading: New Stories”, an initiative that invited older adults living with dementia to explore their childhood reading.

Finally, Alison offers some tips on how we can all enrich our own rereading experiences, be it for those who might be about to embark on rereading for the first time, or for the avid re-reader who wants a little bit more.

Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Dr Alison Waller

Dr Alison Waller is a Reader at the University of Roehampton and a member of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL). Alison teaches on both the on-site and distance learning MA programmes in Children’s Literature at Roehampton, alongside modules on the undergraduate English curriculum. Her publications include Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics (2019) and Constructing Adolescence in Fantastic Realism (2009). Alison is currently working on a study of ordinariness in contemporary British Young Adult literature and is running a Covid-19 related project funded by the British Academy, “Reading for Normal”.

Episode Four:
Radical Vulnerabilities: Identities, intersections, and reclaiming power in South Asia

By: Sahar Ahmed

This is a content warning for the following episode. Please be advised that there is discussion of sexual and gendered violence, rape, and sexual harrassment in the workplace. If these topics will be disturbing for you, please proceed with caution.


In keeping with the theme of power and its modalities, this episode is about identities and how minoritizing and racializing minorities can limit our power in patriarchal power structures, but how that very oppression can be subverted by those identities to reclaim power. This episode is a conversation with three incredibly powerful women, who occupy different marginalised spaces (whether it be gender, religious identity, or both) and wield them powerfully to fight for rights, which is almost a form of radical vulnerability. Their work lies at the intersection of research, activism, and sometimes, academia.

We were joined by Dr Arpita Chakraborty, Zoya Rehman, and Mariya Salim, for the discussion.
Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Dr Arpita Chakraborty

Dr Arpita Chakraborty is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ireland India Institute, Dublin City University. Her areas of interest are masculinity, political violence, and relations between gender relations and religious practices in contemporary India. She holds a Masters in Media and Cultural Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, during which she co-directed ‘Bharatmata Ki Jai’, a national award winning documentary film. She worked as an Editor in Sage Publications India before undertaking her PhD in ‘Violence, Religion, and Masculinism in Contemporary India’ at DCU.

Mariya Salim

Mariya Salim is a women’s rights activist, researcher, writer and feminist, based in New Delhi, India. She undertook her second Master’s degree in human rights law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London as a Felix scholar. With over ten years of experience in the development sector, she has lent herself to many feminist concerns, especially those related to the rights of Muslim women. Mariya writes extensively in various media outlets including Al Jazeera, on issues related to women's human rights as well as themes of Nationalism, Identity Based Violence and Muslim women’s rights. Her work with women survivors of sexual violence in the Muzaffarnagar riots has made substantial contribution to the narrative around women's access to justice and rights in the context of Communal Polarization.

Zoya Rehman

Zoya Rehman is a feminist researcher and organiser based in Islamabad, Pakistan, where she is working as a Special Projects Manager at Media Matters for Democracy, a Pakistan based not-for-profit geared towards independent journalism and media and digital rights advocacy. She has been working on gender and legal issues from a multidisciplinary approach through her practice and research. Zoya is a recipient of the Chevening Scholarship Award, and holds MA in Gender Studies and Law at SOAS, University of London.

Episode Five:
From Security to Weaponization: the Power of Citizenship

By: Lilith Acadia




This fifth episode of the Hublic Sphere, hosted by Dr Lilith Acadia, brings together five remarkable scholars, lawyers, and activists to discuss how the concept of ‘citizenship’ creates power.

The January 6th insurrection in Washington DC inspired this episode, yet it has much broader relevance in the US (such as Trump’s family separation policy and the ongoing deportation of children under the Biden administration), Europe (from post-Brexit questions about the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland to the frequent tragedies in the Mediterranean), and globally, as the world grapples with an influx of climate and political refugees.

The topic is also rooted in Dr Acadia’s research, which asks how concepts like ‘religion’ or ‘citizenship’ that we take for granted are actually modern (or European Enlightenment) constructions that enjoy epistemic privilege, which means that knowledge related to those concepts have more power. Acadia is particularly interested in how those concepts are used as pretexts, excuses for imperialism, and injustice. From global migration to voting rights, we can see in our world today how governments or even certain fringe groups are imbuing a naturalized concept of citizenship with special power, which they then use to justify denying some people rights, or even as a pretext for violence.
Speakers include Amy Liu; Evelyn Tsao; Jeremy Bierbach; Michael Bellesiles; and Sahar Ahmed.
Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Sahar Ahmed

Sahar Ahmed is a PhD candidate in the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin. Her research examines and offers a reinterpretation of the right to freedom of religion under International Human Rights Law and Islamic jurisprudence. Sahar is from Lahore, Pakistan, where she worked as a Barrister for many years, being dual qualified at The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn (England & Wales) and as an Advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan. Sahar holds a Masters in Law from SOAS, University of London, where she was an Annemarie Schimmel Scholar. You can find Sahar on Twitter discussing race, feminism, religion, and the law. Twitter: @saharisright

Michael Bellesiles

Michael Bellesilesis the author of numerous books on American history, including 1877, A People’s History of the U.S. Military, and most recently Inventing Equality, on the evolution of the concept of equality in the US, focusing on the post-civil war constitutional amendments. Bellesiles earned a BA from the University of California–Santa Cruz and PhD from the University of California at Irvine; he was a professor of history at Emory University, and taught at UCLA, Stanford, Oxford, and Trinity College in Connecticut, where he lives, writes, and mixes cocktails.
Website: https://www.inventingequality.com/

Jeremy Bierbach

Jeremy Bierbach is an immigration lawyer at the law firm Franssen Advocaten in Amsterdam, and an associate fellow of the Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance (ACELG) at the University of Amsterdam. He defended his PhD in European constitutional law at the University in Amsterdam in 2015, and a book based on his dissertation, Frontiers of Equality in the Development of US and EU Citizenship, was published in 2017 by Asser Press. His focus of interest, in both his practice and his continuing research, is the citizenship of the European Union, which he sees as an important source of rights in member states of the EU for members of minority groups who are unrepresented or underrepresented in the democratic process of those member states.
Twitter: @basilok

Amy Liu

Amy Liu (PhD. Emory University; BA Smith College) is an associate professor in the Government Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research and teaching focus on the intersection of ethnic politics, language politics, and migration politics. Her first book Standardizing Diversity: The Political Economy of Language Regimes (2015, University of Pennsylvania) examines how the recognition of lingua francas can be conducive for economic growth – in Asia generally and in Southeast Asia specifically. Her second book The Language of Political Incorporation: Chinese Migrants in Europe (2021, Temple University Press) looks at the linguistic networks of Chinese migrants and the implications for engagement with local authorities in Europe. She is working on a new book project examining the diversity and representation of government cabinets. Starting fall 2021, Amy will assume co-directorship of the Race and Ethnic Politics Lab at the University of Texas.
Twitter: @dramyhliu

Evelyn Tsao

Evelyn Tsao (LLM Harvard; PCLL and BA The University of Hong Kong) is a public interest lawyer in Hong Kong with a main focus on the rights and welfare of women in general, migrant workers, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable sectors of the society. She has a particular interest in family and reproductive rights in the context and gay and lesbian relationships, and her firm (Patricia Ho & Associates, where she is a Partner) is committed to combatting issues of human trafficking.

Episode Six:
Women in Classical Athens

By:Elizabeth Foley


In this episode, Elizabeth Foley talks with Dr. Carrie Sawtell and Dr. Katherine Backler about women in Classical Athens in the context and question of “power” and through a selection of material and literary sources discusses how women experienced and engaged with their society despite political powerlessness.

Read the show notes here


Learn more about our guest speakers below
Dr. Carrie Sawtell

Dr. Carrie Sawtell completed her BA, MA and PhD in the Archaeology Department at the University of Sheffield. Her PhD was entitled Non-Citizen Commemoration in Fifth and Fourth Century BC Attica, and considered metic (resident foreigners) and slave tombstones, and religious participation, as well as the representation of honours and alliances, combining together to give a picture of the iconographic representation of non-citizens across various spaces in Classical Athens. After her PhD she continued her research as the Macmillan-Rodewald Fellow at the British School at Athens (2019/20), with a focus on funerary commemoration and the use of the word chrestos / chreste (meaning good, useful or worthy) in epitaphs and examining when and where in the Greek world this adjective is used to commemorate slaves. She is currently training as a secondary history teacher.

Dr Katherine Backler

Dr Katherine Backler is an Examination Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Her research centres around women, relationships, and self-writing in ancient Greece. Her doctorate, Women’s Relationships in Classical Attika, analysed how women’s relationships were formed and changed across the course of women’s lives, how they cross-cut other groupings and divisions in Attic society, and how women described them. She has a particular interest in informal family and care relationships, including fostering and shared breastfeeding. She has previously written on how textiles in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey memorialise the labour and identity of women who are excluded from dominant narratives and memorialising processes. Her current project is on the Attic speech-writer Lysias. At the University of Oxford, Katherine teaches ancient Greek history and literature, and a paper on sexuality and gender in the ancient world. She also writes on religion and culture for The Tablet Catholic weekly.

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Episode Seven:
The Power of Reflection

By: The Hublic Sphere Team


During the first covid-19 lockdown in Ireland, four early career researchers and two postdocs at Trinity’s arts and humanities institute, The Trinity Long Room Hub ('The Hub'), started chatting about new possibilities for producing and sharing academic knowledge through a podcast.

Each team member was responsible for an episode around the season's theme, “Modalities of Power,” in conversation with experts from academia and activism, connecting debates in their respective fields to current events. For the final episode, we look back and reflect on individual episodes and the broader process of creating the podcast, producing the first season, and now handing it off to the next team!

Thank you all for listening to our first season.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Hublic soon.
Dawn, Elizabeth, Siobhán, Clare, Sahar, and Lilith

Read the show notes here


The Hublic Sphere Team

Dawn Seymour Klos

Dawn is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis 'The Black Widow of Breedon: Isolde Pantulf’s Life and Identity in England and Ireland, 1170-1230' examines women’s rights and the rise of feminism under thirteenth-century English Common Law. Dawn is passionate about public history, open access, and popular media. Follow Dawn on Twitter: @Medieval_Panda

Siobhán Callaghan

Siobhán is a PhD candidate in the  School of English at Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis explores the representation of childhood displacement in contemporary historical fiction for children about the Second World War and is funded by the Irish Research Council. She is interested in how the past is reimagined for the present and all things children’s literature. Follow Siobhán on Twitter: @SibCallaghan

Sahar Ahmed

Sahar is a PhD candidate in the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin. Her research examines and offers a reinterpretation of the right to freedom of religion under International Human Rights Law and Islamic jurisprudence. Sahar is from Lahore, Pakistan, where she worked as a Barrister for many years, and between all the time spent in London and now, Dublin, she no longer knows what’s ‘home’. You can find Sahar on Twitter discussing race, feminism, religion, and the law. @saharisright

Dr Clare Moriarty

Clare is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. Her research is on the history and philosophy of mathematics in the early modern period. She is a Fellow for Public Philosophy at the Forum for Philosophy at LSE and has worked previously at Justice for Magdalenes Research, University College Dublin and King’s College London. Follow Clare on twitter @quiteclare

Dr Lilith Acadia

Lillith  is an Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at National Taiwan University (A.B. Smith College, PhD UC Berkeley) who recently completed a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund Fellowship at the Trinity College Dublin Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute. Follow Lillith on twitter @L_Acadia

Elizabeth Foley

Elizabeth Foley is a PhD candidate in the Department of Classics at Trinity College Dublin. Her doctoral project is on the political and economic histories of the Cycladic islands in the Hellenistic period and is funded by the Irish Research Council.

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