History, Hegemony, and Identity Politics: An Ethnoarchaeological Examination of Heritage Sites in Ireland

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Duchas, The Heritage Service, is a government organization which funds, organizes, and establishes "Heritage Sites" throughout the nation of Ireland. "Heritage Sites" are simply locations which The Heritage Service has deemed interesting to tourists, as well as sites which they believe evoke and reflect Irish national identity, culture and history. These sites include cottages, caves, archaeological monuments, English mansions, forts, and monasteries. While in Ireland, a tourist would find it almost impossible to escape seeing The Heritage Service's logo, or seeing a Heritage Service 'trail', 'site', or 'road'. What I propose to do with a Richter International Fellowship is to investigate Irish citizens' views of their past to determine how it matches up or deviates with that advocated by The Heritage Service. I will take an ethnoarchaeological approach in order to holistically understand this problem; that is, I will investigate how archaeological material and landscapes are interpreted by looking at three different perspectives: an archaeological perspective, the local Irish's perspective, and Duchas, The Heritage Service's perspective. I will then place these perspectives in a larger context by looking at the political and economic factors that force Duchas to construct a collective history. I believe that Ireland's history and identity is much more complex than how Duchas portrays it. Interviewing Irish citizens will give me the chance to hear a unique version of history, one of which is most likely separate from or indifferent to political and economic motives.


Elizabeth Chin




Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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