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A Dehli Diary: FAHSS collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru University

By Dr Ciara Breathnach

A delegation from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Limerick visited Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi this November. The purpose of our visit was to participate in a series of events that included an Irish Studies Lecture Series and the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation between the Universities.

The delegation included Dr Máiréad Moriarty (Assistant Dean International, and School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics), Professor Shane Kilcommins (School of Law), Professor Anthony McElligott (Department of History) and myself, Dr Ciara Breathnach (Department of History).

The trip would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Professor Jyoti Atwal, JNU, and her close collaboration with the Irish Embassy in New Delhi. We arrived on Monday 6 November and had a jam-packed itinerary.

Left to right: Peter McIvor (Deputy Head of Mission, Irish Embassy, New Delhi), Professor Sucheta Mahajan (Chair, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU), Professor Anthony McElligott, H.E. Brian McElduff (Irish Ambassador), Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar (Vice Chancellor, JNU), Prof. Girish Nath Jha (Director International Collaboration), Professor Jyoti Atwal, Dr Ciara Breathnach, Dr Máiréad Moriarty and Professor Shane Kilcommins.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Irish Studies Lecture Series was held at the Convention Centre on Tuesday 7 November – the birthday of Margaret Cousins, Irish Suffragette and founder of the All India Women’s Conference (1927).

I was delighted to see the hallways of the Convention Centre decorated with an exhibition which I co-curated ‘Hunger Strike: Ireland 1877-1981’. Further information on the curatorial team can be found here. The exhibition was funded by the Irish Research Council (New Foundations, Strand 3, 2015). The exhibition was reproduced courtesy of funding from Kilmainham Gaol Museum and Professor Helen Kelly Holmes, Dean, FAHSS. It is currently on exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol Museum and admission is free.

JNU PhD Student Anisha Deswal

JNU does things with panache, the proceedings commenced with a series of welcomes, the signing of the agreement, the lighting of the lamp of knowledge and the presentation of flowers and gifts to the Ambassador, Peter McIvor and the UL delegation.

The Irish Studies Series began with my keynote address entitled ‘Commemoration, hunger strike and the martyred body: Ireland 1877-1923’. This was followed by talks by AHSS delegates:

  • Dr Máiréad Moriarty: ‘Globalizing Language Policy and Planning: Orders of Irish language LPP’
  • Professor Anthony McElligott: ‘1916 – Ireland’s Global Moment’
  • Professor Shane Kilcommins: ‘The Victim in the Irish Criminal Process’.

Our sessions were chaired by JNU’s Prof Bhagwan Josh, Prof Vaishna Narang, Prof Mridula Mukherjee, and Prof Radhika Singha, and prompted lively discussion.

That evening Professor Helen Kelly Holmes hosted a dinner for the Ambassador, speakers and chairs and our discussions continued.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017
I met with students and welcomed the arrival of a wonderful array of new and pre-loved books from Kenny’s of Galway. They were funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The books will support Professor Atwal’s Masters’ level module ‘Women in Ireland: Reforms, Movements and Revolutions (1840-1930)’. This is the only Irish history
module offered in South Asia.


Thursday, 9 November 2017
Professor McElligott delivered a masterclass on ‘Remembering and Forgetting the Holocaust’ and then we held a research slam between UL and JNU History Postgraduate students.

With improvisation, patience and the spirit of scholarship we overcame the technological challenges (thank you Cian O’Halloran and Alan Hayes ITD/UL) and had great fun. It was wonderful to be part of a virtual cross-cultural knowledge exchange platform.

I am very grateful to the Irish Ambassador His Excellency, Brian McElduff for his efforts in securing funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support the ongoing collaboration between the University of Limerick and JNU.

This trip builds on previous collaborative efforts. In March 2017 I was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Historical Sciences, and in July 2017 Amanda Noonan’s application to the FAHSS International Activity Challenge Fund to bring Professor Atwal and MPhil Student Punita Kapoor, JNU, was successful.

During her visit to UL, Professor Atwal delivered a lecture and a masterclass to the MA History and MA History of Family groups. Punita Kapoor is currently auditing MA History of Family modules at UL.

The Hunger Strike exhibition will continue to be exhibited at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU until January.

New Delhi is both exhilarating and exhausting, I can still hear the cacophony of car horns, which had become a gentle hum by the time we departed.

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