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Dr Aine O'Brien

Dr Aine O'Brien

PhD Film and Cultural Studies (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee)




P: +353-1-4023048
Campus: Aungier Street

Áine O'Brien is Director of the Forum on Migration and Communications (FOMACS) and Co-director of the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, School of Media, DIT. Before returning to Ireland in 2001, she served as Assistant Professor in Film, Media and Cultural Studies at George Mason University, Virginia from 1993-1998, where she was involved in the establishment of a Doctoral Programme in Cultural Studies. O’Brien then moved to the Photography, Film and Television Department at Napier University, Edinburgh (1998–2001). She joined DIT in 2001 and was Head of the Department of Media Technologies (now called ‘Creative Media’ 2002-2004) before taking up her position as Co-director of the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice. She has published widely on politics of identity and representation and the role of creative arts and participatory media in furthering social engagement, civil society activism and social justice. She has co-directed a documentary film (Silent Song, 2000) on Kurdish lyrical protest in Europe and is co-director/researcher of a longitudinal documentary film on the subject of economic migration into Ireland (Here to Stay, 2006), funded by the Irish Film Board. She is co-editor with Alan Grossman of a combined book/DVD-ROM Projecting Migration: Transcultural Documentary Practice (2007, Wallflower Press). She co-edited a special issue on the cultural politics of representation and practice-based research in the Journal of Media Practice 9(2), 2008. In 2010 she co-directed a documentary feature-length film - Promise and Unrest - on the subject of gendered migration and long-distance motherhood ( As Director of FOMACS, O’Brien curates and produces a range of creative arts and participatory media projects - animation, documentary film, photography, radio, and cross-platform digital media. She is currently completing a documentary film with animated sequences titled Union, Ink and Paper about the intersections of biography and labour trade union activism, in addition to researching a film exploring memory, food and cultural displacement.

Doctoral supervision includes: Creative practice-based ethnographic projects on subjects, such as youth cultures and masculinity; feminist discourse and reproductive technologies; race, class, ethnicity and the transnational migrant family; music, migration and living archives; the phenomenon of return migration; childhood and migration, narrating migration through digital storytelling; youth media and digital platforms.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (last five years)

O'Brien and Grossman, 'Voice, Listening and Social Justice: A Multimediated Engagement with New Immigrant Communities and Publics in Ireland', Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture. Special Issue Titled 'Arts of Migration: Art, Politics and Participatory Action Research', edited by Lynne Pearce and Maggie O'Neill, Vol 2: 39-58 (Refereed).

Grossman, McLaughlin, O'Brien, (Guest Editors), Journal of Media Practice. Special Issue on 'Practice-Based Research' (9.2).

Grossman and O'Brien (eds) Projecting Migration: Transcultural Documentary Practice, Columbia University Press, NY (Book/DVD). [Combined DVD/Book engaged with questions of mobility and displacement through the analytical prism of creative practice.

Grossman and O'Brien, 'Kurdish Lyrical Expression: The Terrain of Acoustic Migration', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(2): 271. (Refereed).

Select Conference Papers and Presentations (last five years)
Forthcoming: Workshop Series in 'Ethnography and Visual Arts Practice' co-organised with FOMACS and Fire Station Artists Studios, Dublin.

Keynote: 'Pop-Up Spaces: Regeneration, Migration and the Creative City' Visualising Data Conference. Goethe Institut, Prague.

'Collaboration but at what Cost?' Response to Artur Zmijewski', The Ethics of Collaboration within Socially Engaged Arts Practice', National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

Public Interview with filmmaker Juanita Wilson of As If I am Not There (Ireland, 2010), Irish Film Institute, Dublin.

'Creative Arts and Public Conversations on Migration', European Foundation Centre, Brussels.

'Filmmaking and Migration: The Limitations of Integration Stories', 'People on the Move' Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel

'Competing Narratives and Multidimensional Stories: Migration, Social Justice and the Politics of Listening', ESRC Research Seminar Series, Swansea University, UK.

'Multi-Mediated Engagements with New Publics and Communities', Glocal Imaginaries: Writing/Migration/Place Conference, Lancaster University and Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, UK.

'A Multi-mediated Engagement with New Publics and Communities', Living Cultures Ethnography Conference, Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds.

'Undocumented Migration: Social Solidarity and Media Practice', Clandestino Workshop, London, COMPAS, University of Oxford and PICUM, Brussels.

Co-organiser of 'Cultural Diversity, Media and the Creative Arts' Symposium, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Cross-Institutional Collaboration: CTMP, Goethe-Insitut, Alliance Francaise and School of Languages, DIT. Chair, Keynote address by Professor Kai Hafez, University of Erfurt, Germany.

“Bridges of Hope: Migration, Utopia, Dystopia in Contemporary Ireland’: Screening of Here to Stay’, Bridges to Utopia, International Conference, University of Limerick, Ireland.

‘Living Archives of Migration: Collaborative Politics/Competing Publics’, Investigating the Archive: Media, Migration, Archive, The Royal Society of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK.

‘Photography and Human Rights’, Imaging Human Rights, UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies, Dublin.

Chair: Panel Discussion on ‘2Move Ireland: Exhibition on Migratory Aesthetics’, Grosvenor House, Belfast.

'Situating Migrant Political Agency Through Documentary Practice: Here To Stay', Migration and Cultural Production Seminar Series, Centre on Migration Policy and Society, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.

‘Migration and the Politics of Collaboration: Public Projects/Competing Publics’, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory Seminar Series, University of Cardiff, Wales, UK.

‘The Politics and Ethics of Digital Storytelling with Undocumented Migrants in Dublin’, European Migration and Trafficking Workshop, School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin.

Cultural Studies Now: An International Conference. Keynote Speaker (Cultural Studies and Creative Practice), University of East London, UK.

Queens University, Belfast, ’Practice as a Mode of Theory’, Seminar on Lens-based Practice.

New York University, Globalisation, Visual Culture and Violence Seminar Series. ‘Transcultural Optics: Mediating Migration and Public Policy’.

Selected Films, Festivals, Screenings and Awards (last five years)

Promise and Unrest (2010, Philippines/Ireland, 95 mins. Co-directed with Aine O'Brien, funded by the Irish Film Board):


30th Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris (November).

Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, Panorama Section (November).

Taiwan Ethnographic Film Festival, Tapei (October).

Days of Ethnographic Cinema, Russian Research Institute of the Cultural and National Heritage, Moscow, Russia (September).

31st International Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) Film Festival, University of St Andrews, Scotland (August).

Art-Kino Croatia, Rijeka. Screening of Promise and Unrest as Joint Winner of ETNOFILm3 Festival (June).

‘Motherhood, Servitude and the Delegation of Care' Conference, Birkbeck, University of London (May).

Women Make Waves, Migration Film Festival, Tapei, Taiwan (May). Joint Winner.

ETNOFILm3, Festival Etnografskog Filma, Rovinj, Croatia (April).

Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick, Ireland (February).

'Days of Ethnographic Film' Festival, Audio-visual Laboratory, Institute of Ethnology, Scientific Research Centre of Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia (March).

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Real to Reel Section, Premiere Screening, February.

11th European Association of Social Anthropology (EASA), University of Maynooth, Ireland - ‘Visual Representation of Crisis Through Ethnographic Film' (in collaboration with CAFFE, Coordination of Anthropological Film Festivals in Europe), August.

DMZ Korean Documentary Film Festival, Paju City, Korea, International Competition, September.

'People on the Move: Migration Cinema in Israel and Europe', Cinemateque, Tel Aviv, Israel, September.

Cambridge Film Festival, UK, Documentary Section, September.

16th International Film Festival ETNOFILM ČADCA, Slovakia, Main Competition, October.

San Diego Asian Film Festival, USA, Jury Competition, USA, October.

Waterford Film Festival, Ireland, November.

Here To Stay (2006, Ireland, 72 mins. Co-directed Documentary with Aine O'Brien, funded by the Irish Film Board):

Seeing Cultures: Wellington Ethnographic Cinema, University of Victoria, New Zealand (Travelling Gottingen International Ethnographic Film Festival).

Delhi International Ethnographic Film Festival, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, India.

Anthropological Film, Video and New Media Festival, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), University of Ljublana, Slovenia.

'Bridges to Utopia' Conference, Utopian Studies Society, Ralahine Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland.

RTE Television Broadcast (Here To Stay, 52 min).

Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany.

World Witness Human Rights Film Festival, Limerick, Ireland.

Media and Multicultural Broadcast Award (MAMA).

Green Cuts Film Festival, Berlin (Reel Ireland).

Waterford Film Festival, Ireland.

9th Cinemanila International Film Festival, Philippines.

Guth Gafa Documentary Film Festival, Donegal, Ireland.

'Human Rights Nights' (Migration and Diversity) International Film Festival, Bologna, Italy.

San Francisco Irish Film Festival, USA.

University of Ulster, Coleraine, Centre for Media Research Seminar Series.

University of Limerick, Ireland Tiger’s Eye Film Festival.

NUI Maynooth, Ireland, Department of Sociology Seminar.

Dublin City University (DCU), School of Nursing.

Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Film Festival, Irish Film Institute, Dublin.

Queens University, Belfast, Department of Film and Imaging Seminar Series.

Silent Song (2000, UK, 15 mins, Co-directed Documentary with Alan Grossman):

2MOVE:IRELAND Exhibition on Migratory Aesthetics, Film Screening, Silent Song, Belfast Exposed Photography and Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Ireland.

Short film production (last five years)
Documentary Animation:
Burden of Proof' (2011, Ireland, 6- min), Co-Producer, FOMACS
3-Part Series 'Abbi's Circle' (2009/2010, Ireland, 15-min), Co-Producer, FOMACS

Short Film:
Belonging (2011, 5 min) Co-Producer, FOMACS
Sanctuary (2009, 24x1-min Asylum Monologues), Co-Producer, FOMACS Production
The Richness of Change (2008, Ireland, 7x1-min Shorts), Co-Producer, FOMACS Production.

Digital Stories:
Living in Direct Provision - 9 Stories (2009, 9x3-5min, DVD/Booklet), Co-Producer, FOMACS, Production.
Undocumented in Ireland: Our Stories (2007, 4x3-5 min, DVD/Booklet), Co-Producer, FOMACS Production.

Curation and Programming (last five years)

Curator and Programmer: 'Open Cities Dublin' Photographic Exhibition and City Hub: Project Partners - FOMACS, British Council and Dublin City Council)
Curator and Programmer: 'Not Natasha' Photographic Exhibition and City Hub, Photographer Dana Popa: Project partners - FOMACS, Autograph APB, London and Immigrant Council of Ireland)

Director and Curator: 'Moving Worlds: Cinemas of Migration Film Festival' (Project Partners: EUNIC - European Union National Institutes of Culture, Irish Film Institute, FOMACS ad Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice)
Curator: 'Lost and Found in Translation' (Partners: FOMACS and Ulster Bank Theatre Festival)
Curator: 'A Sikh Face in Ireland: Photographic and Life History Exhibition', Chester Beatty library, Dublin (Partners: Community Foundation and FOMACS)
Co-Director with British Council: 'Learning Lab: Identities and Social Justice' (Partners: British Council and FOMACS
Curator: 'Film, Social Media and Community Engagement' 2-day Symposium and Screenings (Partners: EUNIC -European Union National Institutes of Cultures, Irish Film Institute, FOMACS and Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice)
Co-ordinator and Programmer: 'Having Your Voice Heard' - Radio Mentoring Programme (Partners: FOMACS and 'Migrants and the Media' EPIM (European Programme on Integration and Migration)

Curator: 'Negotiated Identities, Histories and Public Cultures, Series (Partner: Irish Film Institute and Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice)
Curator: 'Moving Worlds: Cinemas of Migration' Film Series, Part 1 and 2 (Project Partners: EUNIC-European Union National Institutes of Culture, FOMACS and Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice)

Co-organiser of 'Cultural Diversity, Media and the Creative Arts' Symposium, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Cross-Institutional Collaboration: Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, Goethe-Insitut and Alliance Francaise)

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