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Dr Marcas Mag Oireachtaigh
Dr Marcas Mag Oireachtaigh profile picture
  • Lecturer
  • Dept of Anthropology
  • Faculty of S&HS

Marcas Mag Oireachtaigh is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and an Affiliate Lecturer at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation at University College London. He held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Toronto's Jackman Humanities Institute and at Harvard University's Mahindra Humanities Center. He received his PhD in 2016 which was awarded the Richard Saller Prize for the Most Outstanding Dissertation throughout the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. He held doctoral research fellow positions at the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity and at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He received his masters degree from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from University College London. With a family life that spans both sides of the border in Ireland, he has long been pressed into thinking critically about on-going colonial histories, and their continuing erasure, as well as postcolonial identities and conflicts.

Research Summary

Dr Mag Oireachtaigh's research investigates the violent aftermaths of war, genocide, and revolution, traversing the thematic domains of language, identity and racisms, on the one hand, and democracy, sovereignty and colonialism, on the other. While he pursues questions on these topics from a starting point grounded in the African Great Lakes Region, they ultimately address a comparative reach of global scale. His first book manuscript, Spectres of the New Rwanda: Genocide Ideology, Democracy, Terror, examines the Rwandan state’s on-going “war” against “genocide ideology” (ingengabitekerezo ya jenoside), which is prohibited in law as “thoughts” of ethnic hatred that threaten the recurrence of genocide. The book investigates the contradiction whereby the campaign against genocide ideology appears to re-inscribe the very terms and divisions it sets out to erase, thereby raising the spectre of renewed violence in the lives of ordinary Rwandans. This project has involved research in those institutions charged with eradicating genocide ideology, including Rwanda’s prison system and courts, layperson-run genocide courts, military-run re-education camps, and state-run genocide commemoration events. He has been concurrently working on a second book project which offers a critique of the interdisciplinary literatures on transitional justice, based upon ethnographic research generated from attending over 150 hearings of Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts. These specialized genocide tribunals, which were in operation between 2002 and 2012, authorized ordinary people without legal training to try and sentence their own neighbours with up to life in prison, passing judgment on 1.9 million cases at an official conviction rate of 86 percent. Dr Mag Oireachtaigh's research has been supported by fellowships from a number of institutions, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the United States Institute of Peace. When called upon, he has served as an expert witness on asylum cases for Rwandans forced into exile.

Teaching Summary

Marcas's teaching and writing bring social theoretical critique to bear on anthropology, history, African Studies, and the social sciences and humanities more broadly, taking up the call to decolonize university curricula. He draws upon the resources of deconstruction, in particular, to critically examine liberal knowledge production and its past and present roles in various imperial projects. He has taught courses on: violent aftermaths; hate speech, language and injury; deconstructive ethnography; qualitative research methods; and decolonizing the university.

Academic Background
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