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Academic Biography

Roisín Higgins has lectured at universities in Ireland, England and Scotland. She has been at Teesside since 2013. She is the Research lead for History and is on the leadership team of the Centre for Culture and Creativity with specific responsibility for research impact. She is currently the instititional lead for the Heritage Constortium, an AHRC/UKRI Collaborative Doctoral Training Partnership.

Roisín’s work focuses on social and cultural history with particular interest in the politics of historical memory.  Her book, Transforming 1916: meaning, memory and the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising, won the prestigious ACIS James S. Donnelly Sr Prize for the best book in History and Social Science. Roisín was involved in many aspects of the Centenary of the Easter Rising, including acting as historical consultant on the ‘Commemoration’ zone of the permanent exhibition GPO: Witness History. During 2016 she was invited to deliver keynote lectures in Australia, America and Europe, as well as to give numerous public lectures in Ireland and Britain. You can read more here.

Roisín was leader of the public history project Dear Mrs Pennyman, funded by the Heritage Lottery. Inspired by letters found in Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough, the project carried out research into the lives of women who wrote to Mary Pennyman in her capacity as Secretary of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Widows and Orphans Fund. Volunteer researchers found stories of women’s hardship and resilience in the years after the First World War.

Roisín was one of the presenters on National Treasures, a public history project run in association with RTÉ, the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Broadcasting Authority. A four-part television series was broadcast in Spring 2018 to coincide with the National Treasures exhibition at the Museum of Folklife, Castlebar.

Roisín was a founding Director of the Irish Association of Professional Historians. She is currently on the Advisory Board of the IAPH and the British Association of Irish Studies.

 

Summary of Research Interests

Roisín has received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2021-22, for her project “Sensing the Troubles: A Critical Reimaging of Life in Northern Ireland”. This project uses sensory history to unlock alternative narratives of the Northern Irish Troubles. A methodology which focuses on the intersections between sight, sound, smell, taste and touch disrupts the existing political history and compiles a complex sensory and affective landscape, allowing hidden stories of lived experience to emerge. During the Troubles the commonplace and the extraordinary were often intertwined yet no one has written a history of everyday life during the conflict. The key contribution of this project is that it captures the almost forgotten aspects of ordinary life through the use of an innovative, interdisciplinary approach. 

Read more on the Sensing the Troubles website.

Listen to Roisín's paper at the Contemporary Irish History Seminar, Trinity Long Room Hub.

Roisín has also received an AHRC Networking Grant for 'Towards a Sociosomatic History of the Troubles'. This will run from 2022-2023. She is PI and Professor Cahal McLaughlin of Queen's University Belfast is CI, in collaboration with Kabosh Theatre Company. The network brings together academics based nationally and internationally and from a range of disciplines, along with arts practioners, cultural institutions and community organisers and advocates. The network will explore the impact of social systems on the body and how this approach might help to write a different history of conflict. 

 

PhD and Research Opportunities

Roisín welcomes potential PhD enquiries from students interested in the social and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland and Britain. Projects on memory and commemoration are particularly welcome.

PhD supervisions [completed]:

Seán Donnelly, ‘Imperial Discourses and Cumann na nGaedheal in the 1920s’. Director of Studies (completed 2020).

Timothy Ellis, ‘Visual Culture and State Formation in Ireland, 1922-39’. Director of Studies (completed 2020).

Peter McElhinney, 'Recovery of Ulster’s Gaelic Material Heritage as a Resource for Contemporary Cultural Expression', AHRC Heritage Consortium/Bradford. Second supervisor. (completed 2019).

 

PhD supervisions [in progress]:

Julia Routh, 'North East Photographic Archives: how important is community engagement to their future preservation as a cultural resource?'. Director of Studies.

Victoria Bailey,  'Petal – A Novel Exploring Realisations, Perceptions, and Prejudices of Single Mothers Exemplified Over Four Generations of a Maternal Line'. Second supervisor.

Aidan Moesby,' Under the Clouds : A practice based investigation at the intersection of Art, Digital and Disability within a weather based metalogue'. Third Supervisor.

Catherine Ryan, 'Occupation, gender and the geographical diaspora of those involved in property transfers in eighteenth-century Richmond and Teesdale in the North Riding of Yorkshire, 1736-1785'. Third Supervisor.

Peter Sykes, 'Remembering the Spanish Civil War: A Transatlantic Comparison'. Second Supervisor.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of St Andrews

External positions

Board Member, Museum of the Troubles Initiative

30 Apr 2022 → …

Member of Peer Review College, AHRC

1 Mar 202230 Dec 2025

External Examiner (School of Humanities), Liverpool Hope University

1 Sep 202130 Aug 2023

Advisory Board member, Irish Association of Professional Historians

Mar 2018 → …

External Examiner (History BA and MA), Liverpool Hope University

1 Jan 201831 Aug 2021

External Assessor, Irish Research Council

1 Nov 2016 → …

Director, Irish Association of Professional Historians

1 Jul 201328 Feb 2018

Advisory Board Member, British Association of Irish Studies

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