“Hope and History” inspire new Irish-South Africa Research Chair for Trinity Long Room Hub partnership
March 15, 2023 - The Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Research Chair was launched yesterday, March 14, 2023, by H.E. Fionnuala Gilsenan, Ambassador of Ireland to South Africa, and the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Professor Tyrone Pretorius at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of Western Cape.
This inaugural Humanities Chair emerges out of a longstanding collaboration between the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute at Trinity College Dublin and the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC. Relationships and networks forged through these institutions’ fellowship programmes have laid the groundwork for today’s historic announcement and offer opportunities to think beyond histories of partition in order to build new imaginations of post-partition societies.
The Embassy is delighted to announce the launch of the Charlotte Maxeke - Mary Robinson Irish Studies Chair!— IrishEmbassyPretoria (@IrlEmbPretoria) March 15, 2023
The chair will be based at the University of the Western Cape and is the first Irish Studies chair on the African Continent! pic.twitter.com/s1LjemW3zf
Both humanities institutions have engaged with debates around colonialism, partition, postcoloniality and race, shedding light on the way cultural production can bring political thought, the arts, and research disciplines into the public sphere. This shared understanding stems from a recognition of a history that marks both countries in relation to legacies of colonialism and partition.
That the legacies of post-partition societies can be examined through a cultural and artistic lens, means we can provide new models of thinking about peace and reconciliation not only in Ireland and South Africa, but across the world.Professor Eve Patten
Drawing inspiration from the work of Seamus Heaney whose “The Cure at Troy”, dedicated to Nelson Mandela, impresses upon us to think of “that further shore” where “hope and history rhyme”, the Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Research Chair encourages a process of thinking which goes beyond the horizons of nationalism to affirm possibilities for overcoming our troubled pasts.
The Research Chair’s themes will explore 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 and peace in the wake of colonialism, partition and apartheid.
Both Charlotte Maxeke-- the first Black woman university graduate and founder of the first woman’s organisation in South Africa-- and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson are exemplary transnational thinkers who offer concepts of education and futurity combined with the worldly commitments necessary to attend to these concepts. With the inauguration of the Research Chair this intellectual sensibility will guide future faculty and postgraduate research, as well as engagements with artistic production, to develop a comparative perspective on relations between Ireland and South Africa.
I congratulate our colleagues in the Arts and Humanities for building on the existing links between Trinity College Dublin and the University of the Western Cape, and for their commitment to developing them further.Provost Linda Doyle
Through funding support from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the initial phase of the work of the Research Chair will bring scholars and artists in Ireland to Southern Africa, hosted by the UWC’s Centre for Humanities Research. The Trinity Long Room Hub has already begun the work of raising additional funds to bring scholars and artists from South Africa to Ireland. The reciprocal commitment of the Research Chair formalises and expands the purposeful relationship between the two institutes and will support the study of concepts in Irish Studies in southern Africa and the study of concepts in South African Studies in Ireland.
Trinity Provost Dr Linda Doyle said:
“The inauguration of the Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Research Chair is a fantastic way to build on the legacies of these two inspiring women. It marks a significant step in the deepening of Trinity’s longstanding relationship with the University of the Western Cape and will catalyse further collaboration between our institutions.”
“I congratulate our colleagues in the Arts and Humanities for building on the existing links between Trinity College Dublin and the University of the Western Cape, and for their commitment to developing them further.”
Speaking from the University of Western Cape, Professor Eve Patten, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub said that this was “a momentous day for the Trinity Long Room Hub and the field of arts and humanities studies worldwide. That the legacies of post-partition societies can be examined through a cultural and artistic lens, means we can provide new models of thinking about peace and reconciliation not only in Ireland and South Africa, but across the world. I want to thank our colleagues at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape for sharing our ambitions and providing a home for the new Charlotte Maxeke-Mary Robinson Research Chair.”
With the inauguration of the Research Chair, this intellectual sensibility will guide future faculty and postgraduate research and engagements with artistic production to develop a comparative perspective on relations between Ireland and South Africa.#IAmUWC @tcddublin pic.twitter.com/Uol1aFfYlI— UWC (@UWConline) March 14, 2023
Professor Heidi Grunebaum, Director of the Centre for Humanities Research, welcomed the Trinity Long Room Hub visitors and the Irish ministerial delegation to the University of Western Cape.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State Anne Rabbitte celebrated the depth of Ireland’s relationship with South Africa and praised the “many vibrant research collaborations” in the arts and humanities which laid the groundwork for the new Chair.
The audience was treated to a special performance by the Ukwanda Puppets and Design Arts Collective of an excerpt from their recently premiered work MAXEKE, about the life of the social and political activist for whom, together with Mary Robinson, the Chair is named.
Left to right: Professor Eve Patten, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Minister of State Anne Rabitte, Professor Heidi Grunebaum, H.E. Fionnuala Gilsenan.
Aoife King, Communications Officer | Trinity Long Room Hub | firstname.lastname@example.org | 01 896 3895