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Publication Detail
Digital Archives and the Irish Commemorative Impulse: Gender, Identity, and Digital Cultural Heritage
  • Publication Type:
    Thesis/Dissertation
  • Authors:
    Smyth H
  • Date awarded:
    2021
  • Status:
    Unpublished
  • Awarding institution:
    University College London
  • Language:
    English
  • Date Submitted:
    31/03/2021
  • Keywords:
    commemoration, digital archives, Ireland, Heritage, Feminism, Critical Heritage Studies, Digitisation, Decade of Centenaries, Social Media, Identity
Abstract
The current ‘Decade of Centenaries’ (2012-2023) in the Republic of Ireland has created a pretext for funding high-profile national digitisation projects. During this decade, digital archives have become part of the public experience of commemoration in a way they were not before. Social media also emerged as a prominent mode of communicating the commemorations online, leaving behind an historical record of engagement. Releases of state digital archives have been aligned with key anniversaries, notably in 2016, and has set a precedent for digitisation as a new ritual of commemoration in this late-modern remembrance culture. Online engagement built towards and spiked between March and April 2016, and though it is a burgeoning area of interest in digital history and memory studies Twitter as a source for the systematic study of contemporary commemoration in Ireland has been little explored. In this context, this thesis demonstrates how the profusion of digital archives and online engagement with heritage emphasises the digital space as a territory for the performance of remembrance culture, underpinned by a critical heritage and feminist discourse. Taking three centennial collections as case studies, it demonstrates how ‘digitisations may be recognized as vibrant and historically situated sources in their own right’ even as they instantiate Irish cultural and collective memory and identity. Using digital humanities methods, it further substantiates the ways in which Twitter was (re)appropriated for the commemorations for feminist ends. Commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising continues to be a powerful reference point in defining and redefining Irish cultural identity. This thesis shows how both digital commemorative archives and Twitter have been mobilized in articulating national identity during this decade of commemorations, as well as in critical remembrance around the centenary of the Easter Rising, challenging inequality and authorised commemoration.
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