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Nancy Scheper-Hughes book Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics (1979/ 2001) is regarded as one of the most important seminal anthropological studies of an Irish community and mental illness in rural Ireland. 40 years on ground-breaking author and activist anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, artist Duncan Campbell and Professor Luke Gibbons/ Discussion Moderator reflect on Scheper-Hughes experiences of tracing the social disintegration of a remote village in Ireland and her later attempts to reconcile an honest ethnography with the community.

This conversation draws on Campbell’s film The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy and the artist’s extensive research into 1968 documentary film The Village made by the Ethnographic Film Unit of UCLA, and in particular Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics by Nancy Scheper-Hughes.

Using this material as a framework for a broader discussion, speakers address the evolving ethics and politics of social, cultural and visual anthropology, considering its validity as a historical record in bearing witness to rural village life. Thus offering a timely reflection on the tensions between truthful representation and the anthropologists’ gaze, a subject that is central to Campbell’s new film and its re-framing of contemporary Ireland.

Programmed in association with the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland.


About the Artist

Duncan Campbell b.1972

Duncan Campbell is best known for his films which focus on particular moments in history, and the people and objects at the centre of those histories. He uses archive material as a route to research subjects and histories that he feels are important. The process of making the films becomes a means to further understand his subjects and reveal the complexity of how they have been previously represented. — View Artist »

About the Speakers

Nancy Scheper-Hughes is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley where she directs the doctoral program in Critical Studies in Medicine, Science, and the Body. Scheper-Hughes’ lifework concerns the violence of everyday life examined from a radical existentialist and politically engaged perspective. Her examination of structural and political violence, of what she calls “small wars and invisible genocides” has allowed her to develop a so-called ‘militant’ anthropology, which has been broadly applied to medicine, psychiatry, and to the practice of anthropology. She is perhaps best known for her books on schizophrenia among bachelor farmers in County Kerry (Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland) and on the madness of hunger, maternal thinking, and infant mortality in Brazil (Death without Weeping: the Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil).

Duncan Campbell lives and works in Glasgow. He is best known for his films which focus on particular moments in history, and the people and objects at the centre of those histories. He uses archive material as a route to research subjects and histories that he feels are important. He completed the MFA at Glasgow School of Art in 1998 and a BA in Fine Art at the University of Ulster in 1996. Campbell was the winner of the 2014 Turner Prize (Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards, Tris Vonna-Michell) and was one of three artists representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale as part of Scotland + Venice 2013 (Corin Sworn, Campbell, Hayley Tompkins). In 2012 Campbell took part in Manifesta 9 curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina, Katerina Gregos and Dawn Ades, Belgium and in 2010 he took part in Tracing the Invisible, Gwangju Biennale. In 2017, Wiels, Brussels will host a solo exhibition on Duncan Campbell

Luke Gibbons has taught as Professor of Irish Studies at Maynooth University, the University of Notre Dame, USA, and as Visiting Professor at New York University. His most recent publications include Joyce’s Ghosts: Ireland, Modernism and Memory (University of Chicago Press); (Co-editor), Charles O’Conor: Life and Works (Dublin: Four Courts Press); ‘Introduction,’ to Dorothy Macardle, The Uninvited (Dublin: Tramp Press), and Limits of the Visible: Representing the Irish Great Famine (Quinnipiac University/Cork University Press).

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