School of Applied Social Studies Seminar: The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy

  • 29 Mar 2017



“Good enough” ethnography?

A screening and discussion of Duncan Campbell’s

The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy



Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California, Berkeley


Sarah Glennie, Irish Museum of Modern Art


Monday, 3 April 2017: 4-6pm

Film and Screen Media Auditorium, Kane Building B10 (Basement), UCC


Duncan Campbell’s The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy is a major new work commissioned by the Irish Museum of Modern Art as part of the 1916 commemoration programme. The exhibition guide notes that the film explores the long history of ethnographic research by US anthropologists in rural Ireland, in places such as Dún Chaoin where The Village was filmed in 1968, and “the assumptions, ethics and misconceptions” that framed the relationships between anthropologists and the people they studied. The exhibition guide goes on to explain that the film considers the soul searching by US academic Nancy Scheper-Hughes following the publication of her seminal 1979 book Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics. The villagers of An Clochán on the Dingle Peninsula felt betrayed by her representation of their sexuality and family relations, and questioned her right to study them at all. In later editions of the book, Scheper-Hughes attempted to reconcile her responsibility to honest ethnography with respect for the people who shared their homes and their secrets with her.”

In this seminar, following an introduction from Sarah Glennie, IMMA director and commissioning curator of The Welfare of Tomas O'Hallissy, and a screening of the film, there will be a discussion with Nancy Scheper-Hughes about ethnography. For her, ethnography is not a science but a “good enough” tool and a potential answer to xenophobia. Likening it to poetry, she regards it as a deeply subjective act of translation. 


Fáilte Roimh Cách

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