MA ACW is delighted to welcome John Wilkins and Carol Ballantine to contribute to
the spring program. They are both experts on identity, difference and dialogue. In
conversation with them, in two separate seminars, students will explore the complex
issues of politics, ethics and representation in relation to the identities of different
groups and communities. This is a great opportunity for the ACW group to consider
some vital and urgent questions facing citizens in the contemporary world.
John Wilkins – Theorising Ourselves: Black Identity Construction from Enslavement to Black Lives Matter
For four hundred years black identity was a negative quantity. However, after enslavement ended in the United States, Black Intellectuals began theorising a positive Black Identity that influenced political movements and how black people viewed themselves in the Diaspora.
Dr. John Wilkins identifies as U.S.-Black and Gay. Dr. Wilkins earned his B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster Pennsylvania; and earned his MA in English Literature from the L’Université de Montréal, Canada. His thesis dealt with “Goddess Imagery in the Novels of Toni Morrison”. Dr. Wilkins earned his doctorate from Trinity College Dublin’s School of English where he interrogated representations of “Black Gay Male Identity in the African Diaspora”.
His research interests are the intersections of gender, race, and National identity. His most recent article, “Give Me Back My N’Gresse!”, connects the Black Lives Matter Movement, and Visual Culture to decry the Shelbourne “N’gresse Statues” as an inappropriate sign of Irish National Identity.
Dr. Wilkins arrives at Trinity and IMMA as a research Fellow funded by the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise scheme. He will interrogate the relationship between science fiction author Octavia Butler and IMMA’s exhibition, Xenogenesis.
Carol Ballantine – Thinking about Difference in 21st Century Ireland
Ireland has undergone significant changes since the turn of the century, involving an
uncomfortable confrontation with our institutional past, and the passing of
new legislation including for marriage equality, abortion access and gender
recognition. This has fed into the contemporary nation’s imaginings of itself as
progressive, cosmopolitan and ‘equal’, underpinning a transformed local and global
understanding of ‘New Ireland’. These imaginings are undercut by deep social
divisions, and shifting ideas about what it means to live in Ireland, what it means to
belong. In this class, we will explore the idea of difference and its companions – diversity (a
friendly companion) and oppression (an unfriendly one); and we will consider the
legacies of history for contemporary understandings of difference.
Dr. Carol Ballantine has a PhD in sociology of gender and migration (2020) from the School of Global Women’s Studies in University of Galway, focusing on narratives of violence in the lives of African women living in Ireland.
She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Geography, UCD, on Beyond Opposition, a project that seeks to address polarisation related to gender, sexuality and abortion in Ireland, Great Britain and Canada. From 2005-2015, she worked for Trócaire, an international development agency, in a variety of roles including gender advisor. Her personal essays and criticism dealing with issues of identity in modern Ireland have been published in Banshee, The Stinging Fly, Moxy, Headstuff and the Irish Times. She is working on a collection of essays about gender and parenthood.