The James Ford Lectures : Laboratory
Ireland, empire, and the early modern world
The illustration depicts Hibernia as both shepherdess and huntress, with bees – the symbols of industry and colonization – circling her head and Irish wolfhounds at her side. This, and the accompanying contrasts between the wild forests and the cultivated arable and pastoral lands represents many of the themes that are explored in these lectures which re-examine Ireland’s role in empire through the lens of early modernity.
The focus will be on Ireland and the First English Empire (c.1550-1770s) but it is critical, where possible and appropriate, to look to other European and global empires for meaningful comparisons and contrasts. These lectures draw on a wide range of written, visual, and archaeological sources while works of poetry, prose, and performance help to recapture emotions and more nuanced senses of identity.
Four interconnected themes underpin the series. First, as England’s first colony, Ireland formed an integral part of the English imperial system. Second, as well as being colonised the Irish operated as active colonists in the English and other European empires. Third, the extent to which Ireland served as laboratory for empire in India and the Atlantic world is analysed. Finally, the impact empire had on the material and mental worlds of people living in early modern Ireland is examined alongside how these years are remembered today.
Lecture Five: Laboratory
Speaker: Professor Jane Ohlmeyer (Trinity College Dublin)
This lecture explores the extent to which Ireland served as laboratory both for imperial rule and for resistance to that rule. Processes and practices of government, especially legal and landed ones and others relating to anglicisation, characterised from the mid-sixteenth century the implementation of English imperial authority in both Ireland and across the English empire. In addition to analysing influences and actions distinctive to English rule in Ireland, India and the Atlantic, it is important to acknowledge those shared more generally by early modern empires. Equally challenging is how we draw insights across time and make meaningful connections from the early modern into the modern period, rather than taking a teleological approach and reading history back from the present.