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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Dr Roisín Higgins did her PhD at the University of St Andrews and has lectured at universities in Ireland, England and Scotland. She has been at Teesside since 2013. She is the Research Lead for History.

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.

Roisín is 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 is carrying 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 have found stories of women’s hardship and resilience in the years after the First World War.

Roisín was one of the curators for National Treasures, a public history project run in association with RTÉ, the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Broadcasting Authority. A 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's current research project is ‘Sensing Conflict: Memory and the Senses in Northern Ireland’s Troubles’. This is a social history told through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The history of the Troubles has largely been written as a sequential narrative which attempts to explain the breakdown in civil society at the end of the 1960s. ‘Sensing Conflict’ offers a new methodological approach that disrupts the predominant political historiography and is keenly attuned to the politics of corporeality and to the neglected archive of bodily sensation. The core aim of this research is to bring together two realms often kept distinct: the cognitive and the sensory. It opens up a new way of understanding how people in Northern Ireland interpreted their experiences during the Troubles and how class, gender, religion and conflict permeated the sensory areas of their lives.


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.

Completed PhD supervisions:

As DoS:

Seán Donnelly, ‘Imperial Discourses and Cumann na nGaedheal in the 1920s’

Timothy Ellis, ‘Visual Culture and State Formation in Ireland, 1922-39’.

On Supervisory Panel:

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

Current Students:

As DoS:

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

Sarah Booth: Female Influence on Poor Law Doctrine and Administration.

On Supervisory Panel

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'.

External positions

Advisory Board member, Irish Association of Professional Historians

Mar 2018 → …

External Examiner, Liverpool Hope University

1 Jan 201831 Dec 2022

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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