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December 9, 2020 21 min

On International Human Rights Day, Dr. Iarfhlaith Watson, Head of UCD School of Sociology, chats with Brendan McNamara about human rights, identity and growing up ‘different’ in Ireland in the 1970s and 80s. In this wide ranging discussion, Iarfhlaith shares his thoughts about how both his personal experiences and his research have contributed to his belief in the importance of identity in developing healthy and sustainable diversity in our societies.  

As he was growing up Irish was Iarfhlaith’s first language.  As a result, he experienced what it is to embody that most symbolic element of ‘Irishness’, while ironically also automatically belonging to a minority - namely people for whom Irish is their first language.  But this, and other aspects of the development of his identity that set him apart from the mainstream also, ultimately, helped him to see and appreciate the advantages of diversity.

Iarfhlaith explores various issues including the importance of being rooted in our own culture and identity if we are to confidently soar high enough to gain a broader view of the diversity all around us.  This world embracing perspective will then allow us to learn about and value each other and come to see our very differences as ‘gems’ that can enrich our lives and our societies.


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