|Place||Institute of technology Sligo|
The Executive Committee of the SAI has come to the decision that 2020 will be a fallow year for the Annual Conference. Considering the uncertainty around travel, and the plethora of rescheduled conferences taking place next Autumn, we have come to the decision that the most pragmatic option is to simply reconvene in May 2021. We were very excited about having Sligo as our destination, and so this will be our venue for 2021. Institute of Technology Sligo has once more kindly taken up the mantel of SAI host for 2021.
When the inevitability of the need to impose social distancing and an overall lockdown dawned us forcing us to cancel the conference, we had the conference largely planned, with just a few panels to add in. We are sharing the conference programme of what would have been with you here. It is bitter sweet to look on what would have been an inspiring and enjoyable event, but we hope that it whets your appetite for 2021, when we will reconvene with renewed energy, with a refreshed focus on our deep interdependence, questions of social justice, and reflections on how ways of doing things which seemed inevitable and inescapable are in fact not so at all, all of which the current crisis has made so obvious.
Professor Sally Shortall (Newcastle University)
Professor Frances McGinnity (TCD & ESRI), Dr. Katy Hayward (QUB) and Dr. Kieran Keohane (UCC).
The SAI Annual Conference is the essential Irish social science conference for hearing and sharing the latest research on Irish society and by sociologists working in Ireland. We had an extremely strong line up, appropriate to our host venue. The conference theme was Ireland on the Edge, and as such we were sought the best research on peripherality, borders, marginality and liminality.
Our keynote was to be Sally Shortall from Newcastle University, whose work touches on crucial current issues of farming, rural inequalities particularly related to gender, and also other disparities. As we planned for the conference tractors clogged up the already clotted arteries of Dublin, making it clear that understanding rural peripheral regions was of great importance.
UKExit, better known as Brexit, similarly rumbles on to its unclear conclusion, while Stormount tentatively gets running again. Katy Hayward from QUB is one of the leading commentators on Brexit and Northern Ireland, both in the media and academia, and she had kindly agreed to help us understand what the new border will be like, and also, where it will be. Marginalisation and social exclusion on the basis of gender, citizenship status and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are perennial questions. Frances McGinnity, from the ESRI and Trinity, was going to assist us understand the current challenges in this area. We are all living on the edge these days too. Life in Ireland, as elsewhere, is increasingly marked by flux and uncertainty, as traditional structures dissolve, leaving us in a time of liminality, but where tradition collides with modernity in peculiar ways. Kieran Keohane from UCC is one of the most eminent cultural sociologists in Ireland and a leading commentator on the transformation of Irish culture and society, who has reflected on the peculiar Irish experience of modernisation and permanent liminality.
The SAI Annual Conference is not only a way to stay up to date on the best research happening in and on Irish society, but it is also a great chance to catch up with colleagues around the country. As such we aim to make it not only intellectually stimulating, but friendly and convivial and welcoming. We are sorry that we did not have the opportunity to realise our plans this year, but know that the sociological community will come together with renewed energy next year when we hope all of this is over.
John and Jackie.