Kevin joined King’s as a teaching fellow in 2016. Kevin’s research interests focus on the emergence of state institutions as technologies of government throughout the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century.
- Where are you from?
I was born in Dublin and have spent most of my life there, so moving to London has been very exciting. As a geography and history nerd it is the perfect place to live, as every corner you turn leads to a new and interesting place to explore.
- Why did you choose Geography?
I started off studying science in university in Dublin and ended up as an historical geographer, so I went through a very unusual route in my studies. I specialised in geography for my BA, and quickly found a job as a GIS officer in the Irish Heritage Office which ignited my fondness for historical geography.
I am such an all geography nerd though so I have often been coring peat bogs in the West of Ireland in the same week as leading an urban walk fieldtrip.
- Tell us about your field
My current research is on the emergence of state institutions in the nineteenth-century and how they attempted to reshape conduct, social relations and identity to secure governance. I have focused on the creation of national education in Ireland, which was introduced by the British administration in the hope to reshape local social relations, specifically religious tensions. They also attempted to reframe Irish identity towards an imperial norm. I have expanded this to examine how the ideology of using institutions to shape the conduct was applied across the Empire in attempt to reshape colonial populations towards a common identity.
- Why is it important?
Understanding how and why institutions were established and function over time is vital to how we change and shape them today. For example, in Ireland there is intense debate over the nature of state-funded national schools and whether they should hold a religious ethos. This is the exact same debate that was held over 180 years ago!
Perhaps more importantly – it is interesting, is that not enough?
- Tell us about an interesting or surprising finding you’ve come across recently?
On a fieldtrip examining periglacial features in south west Ireland we found a local farmer infilling an important relic pingo (ice-blister). These are some of the most important examples of these features in the British Isles (which happen to be my favourite geomorphological feature – yes I am that uncool). While Ireland has good protective legislation around built heritage, it has none regarding natural heritage. So we petitioned the local council who bought the land with the pingo to preserve it. As a result, there is pressure mounting to develop regulations to protect important natural heritage in Ireland.
Above: Kevin surveying the Irish coastlines with students