A new phase, 2019-23

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A container ship passing Blackrock Observatory on its way out to sea. Cork, Ireland. Photo by the author.

This website largely functions as a personal page rather than a blog. One of the most recent posts was about my 2017 transition from freelance editor in the UK to visiting research fellow in Ireland. Now, two years later, I find myself reflecting on what happened next and what the future holds for me. Where better to do so than here?

It’s been a long road from Perth, Western Australia where I grew up and completed my doctoral studies at the University of Western Australia. I have found the combination of roles that post-PhD life has brought to me rewarding and diverse (editor, online tester, marketing officer, unpaid academic) but also very unstable. Many of the positions that I have occupied were freelance or precarious, but would have once been permanent and salaried.

At the time I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when we moved across the Irish Sea, but the last few years have been some of my happiest. I spent several very rewarding months as the Marketing Officer for the Open Library of Humanities. From 2018-19 I have been a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity College Dublin working on an environmental humanities deep mapping project focused on Lough Derg in County Donegal. I have traveled, shared my work, and met lots of interesting people. The project has started to yield results. It was also my great pleasure to host the Irish Research Council-funded Aquatic Cultures and the Digital Environmental Humanities (ACDEH) knowledge exchange for impact event at TCD over the summer, with much more to come for Irish water studies. I’ve enjoyed meeting new colleagues in geography, and getting to know the culture of the discipline.

I feel incredibly privileged to have shared the last two years in Ireland with my wife Debs, who is now the Education and Outreach Manager for the Digital Repository of Ireland. I’m really proud of what we’ve both accomplished individually and together. We originally came to Ireland as Debs took up a 2017-18 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Since then, she has embraced a style of working and a work life that has put her on a very successful path. I’m very grateful to the Hub for accepting me as a visiting fellow and treating us both with respect and kindness. Supporting the partner of a scholar who has come to work for you is one of the most generous forms of academic solidarity.

Precarity has defined my adult life, academic or otherwise, and its abatement has seemed somewhat surreal. I’ve been very lucky, and I am grateful for it every day. For the first time in my life, I have been employed full time for an entire consecutive 12-month period (2019). After working a series of casual jobs, short-term contracts and drifting through periods of unemployment, this is very welcome.

On that topic, I have some news to announce:

As of January, I will be moving to University College Cork to work as a Postdoctoral Fellow from 2020-23 on Ports, Past and Present: Cultural Crossings between Ireland and Wales, a joint initiative with UCC and Wexford County Council in Ireland, and in Wales with Aberystwyth University and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme and is led by UCC. I am very excited about the opportunity to work across disciplines and national boundaries with colleagues whom I admire on a multi-faceted regional project with the chance to encourage real and lasting societal change.

You can read a press release about the project here and follow it on Twitter here.

My other projects, including my work on Lough Derg, will proactively continue in the background, with a monograph on the horizon. The first phase of the Digital Derg deep map will be released next month (more details forthcoming on the project blog), followed by a slow expansion and further publications. A deep map benefits from deep research and persistent attention, so I am looking forward to having the time to keep it slowly growing.

I will look forward to sharing more in 2020, and wish you all a happy holidays and new year!

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