In honor of Micael Merrifield, the Associated Student Government and the Anthropology and Ethnic Studies Speakers Series kick-started this semester with a lecture given by Dr. Dominic Bryan, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies in Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Jan. 27.
The lecture titled “The Problem with Guns: Transforming Conflict in Ireland and Beyond” was dedicated to Merrifield due to his love of discussing controversial topics and his personal ties to Queen’s University, Bryan said.
Ten years ago, Merrifield and Bryan set up a summer study abroad program in Belfast along with a lasting friendship.
“Micael needed a toilet, guess you’d say bathroom, in Belfast and walked into our office,” Bryan said. “We started talking and he said he would bring students. I thought nothing more of it, but he ended up being like the Pied Piper. Micael brought sunshine to Belfast every summer.”
To honor their friendship, Bryan covered the conflict in Northern Ireland, a topic that he spent 30 years researching.
“I thought the most interesting part was the history of the [Irish Republican Army] IRA,” said Tosh Shafihie, a 24-year-old accounting major.
In addition to covering the violence associated with the IRA and the way it affected people at the time of the war and today, Bryan discussed how violence is glorified in American culture.
This led to a discussion between Bryan and the audience of 175 students, former students and professors.
“I thought it was really successful,” said Claire Cesareo, anthropology instructor and chair of anthropology and ethnic studies. “It energized and stimulated the students and challenged and engaged the speaker.”
The goal of the Anthropology and Ethnic Studies Speakers Series is to introduce students to anthropological issues, Cesareo said. Mainly the speakers are professors from local colleges and UC’s, but if they are from out-of-town, like Bryan, they try to get them to speak at Saddleback College.
Many of Bryan’s former students were able to watch their former professor in action again.
“It was great to bring people back to the school,” Cesareo said.
The next lecture is set to take place in March. For more details, see posts on MySite and on the Saddleback campus calendar.