A native of Derry, Northern Ireland, UCLA’s Anne Gilliland, recently shared her research about the role of community archives in promoting grassroots voices and peaceful nation-building in countries that are historically ethnically divided.

Gilliland, who is the assistant dean of information studies, presented her ethnographic research on the role that post-conflict archives in Croatia and Bosnia are playing in these newly independent nations as she delivered the third annual Eoin MacNeill Lecture in Dublin. She was invited by the Irish Manuscript Commission, which was established in 1928 to document native Irish culture.

Presenting her paper on “Sustaining Identity and Peace-building Through Community Archives,” Gilliland shared her research on the potential of community archives to aid newly formed nations in efforts to “take control over their own narratives, grieving over their losses and trying locally and virtually to rebuild a sense of community after it has been fractured by displacement, genocide and diaspora.”

The aim of the Eoin MacNeill Lecture, which is named for the Irish nationalist Gaelic revivalist and minister for education after Irish independence, is to present international scholarship on archives and records within Ireland and support its efforts to preserve its own history.

“Modern Ireland is now almost 100 years old,” Gilliland said. “Many other formerly colonial nations have since become independent, so it is important to look at the historical experience of Ireland as well as that of more recent examples … across different ethnic groups, and from the left and the right … to understand their role and impact.”

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