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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

I returned to the University of Helsinki, as University Lecturer in Nordic Studies, in February 2020.

In addition to comparative and transnational studies of Nordic societies, my research interests lie in the history and society of Europe during the “Long Nineteenth Century”. Most recently I have been working on themes relating to famine – especially the Great Finnish Famine of the 1860s and its commemoration, poor relief, comparisons with other catastrophes (notably the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s), and the phenomenon of international aid (both from the donor and recipient perspective). More generally, I have been working on a wider project examining comparisons and contrasts in Irish and Finnish history – something that kept me particularly busy during 2016-17, when both countries commemorated significant centenaries.

Although I am Irish, I was educated in Scotland (St. Andrews, MA Hons 1996; Edinburgh, PhD, 2001) and my PhD investigated links between Irish and Scottish land reformers and labour activists in the 1880s-90s. I have held academic positions at the University of Edinburgh (lecturer), University of Aberdeen (senior lecturer), and have enjoyed three spells in Institutes of Advanced Study (Helsinki, 2010-12; Aarhus, 2017-18; Tampere, 2018-20). From 2012 to 2017 I was the Principal Investigator on the Academy of Finland project, “‘The Terrible Visitation’: Famine in Finland and Ireland, c. 1845-1868”, which compared elements of the history, and historiography, of the Great Famines in Ireland (1840s) and Finland (1860s).

I hold two concurrent Docentships: (i) in European Area and Cultural Studies (University of Helsinki, 2008); (ii) in Transnational and Comparative History (Tampere University, 2021), and this reflects my interest in a wide variety of historical and contemporary topics, from a range of disciplinary perspectives. In pursuing both transnational and comparative research, I enjoy questioning some of the accepted norms of European 'national' narratives. My recent research projects have examined the aid which flowed around northern Europe in the 1860s, both from donor and recipient perspectives. In particular, I have analysed the motivations for such charitable interventions, especially the idea of “psychological proximity” whereby donor individuals or states imagine an affinity with the recipients of the donations. Though this type of study, it is possible to analyse the interconnectedness of nineteenth-century Europe, the flexibility of externally-imposed identities, and observe important continuities with twenty-first century aid campaigns.


External positions

Title of Docent in Transnational and Comparative History, Tampere University

31 Jan 2021 → …

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Famine
  • Philanthropic studies
  • Nationalism
  • Area and Cultural Studies

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.