A Very English Savage is aimed at a general reader and, so, breaks many conventions associated with academic publishing – no jargon, no lens, no footnotes and a novel system of referencing. curator.ie goes one step further in introducing an online component on the Ballymaclinton blog site. This picks up any loose ends, errata etc in the book as well as adding additional research that followed the end of writing. It also creates an online space for engagement with readers of the book.

As far as motivation goes, lack of space combined with the complexity of the ground covered meant that some arguments are heavily edited, with the inevitable consequence of loose ends. That prompted this experiment in hybrid, interactive and engaged publishing. After all, that is what Haddon did in the 1890s when he combined journalism and slideshows as a work around to limits on the publication of his photographs and his unorthodox, anticolonial views on the nature of anthropology.

A montage of two portraits of Alfred Cort Haddon and John Millington Synge. Left. Haddon on board the S. S. Brandon in 1885 (detail), with permission Royal Irish Academy © RIA. Haddon is dressed in sailor's outfit and soft hat and stares off camera. Right. Synge in Paris in 1897 (curator.ie collection). Synge is dressed as a fashionable young man about town.

Left. Haddon on board the S. S. Brandon in 1885 (detail), with permission Royal Irish Academy © RIA. Right. Synge in Paris in 1897 (curator.ie collection).

The first ‘loose end’ on the list is, of course, Synge and his photography. That is where this whole project started way back in 2009 and, post publication, remains a very active area of investigation. I propose in A Very English Savage that Haddon’s work in the Aran Islands provided an ethnographic baseline for later work by literary modernists like Synge and cultural nationalists like Hyde. However, the evidence presented was limited to a series of outlines and the Ballymaclinton blog provides the space to publish the notes that furnished those outlines as well additional research carried out in 2023.

A Very English Savage | ‘the head-hunter’ and ‘the playboy will be followed by updates on the importance of the field club movement as a contact point for Haddon, Synge and Hyde. The series will also include posts about the cameras used by Haddon and Synge in the field, along with separate posts on the twenty five photographs feature in the Haddon and the Aran Islands exhibition currently on show in the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Other ‘loose ends‘ include what it meant to become an anthropologist in 2020, when a stand off between a humanitarian tradition of engaged anthropology and an academic discipline of political utility that achieved a level of controversy in the wake of a resurgent Black Lives Matter movement. This part of the series will pick up on what it means to engage with the history of anthropology at a time when the very idea of anthropology is contested and, so, add a critical and contemporary edge to the series. Work on this strand starts on 4 December 2023 with the inaugural, online conference of the History of Anthropology Network.

John Millington Synge took this  photograph of a young man and a boy posing alongside a drystone wall that is traditional in the Aran Islands. Both are dressed in traditional home spun vest, shirt, waist coat and trousers. The man wears rawhide sandals while the boy wears boots. Lilo Stephens identified the man as Martin McDonagh. photo credit: John Millington Synge. 1898, Digital photographs from scanned silver gelatine negatives (Timothy Keefe, Sharon Sutton 2009). Courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, University of Dublin. Alt text by Ciarán Walsh, curator.ie.

John Millington Synge. 1898, Digital photograph from scanned silver gelatine negative (Timothy Keefe, Sharon Sutton 2009). Courtesy of the Board of Trinity College, University of Dublin.

circle of texture grey back ground with the words www.curator.ie embossed on it. designed by Ciarán n Walsh