Ireland-Spike Island Program

Spike Island is Ireland’s Alcatraz – a highly fortified prison on an island just off a major port city, Cork.  Prisons today proliferate, but long-term confinement became the dominant means of punishment and social control only in the mid-19th century. The architecture of many of the purpose-built prisons in Ireland from this period (under British Imperial rule) reflects new ideas about the redemptive nature of isolation, discipline and work.

Our field school on Spike Island – Directed by Dr. Barra O’Donnobahin  from the University College Cork – explores the physical isolation of prisoners not only from historical records, but from material culture and anatomical aspects as well.  This island prison was tied into the global reach of the British imperial system of power.  In the early years of its operation, Spike Island prison was one of the main holding centers for Irish convicts transported to Australia and to Bermuda.  During the 2014 season, the principal research focus is directed towards bioarchaeology, exploring the convict burial ground and studying remains of inmates who died at this prison.

All IFR field schools are peer-reviewed annually by members of our Board of Directors – consisting of 13 of some of the most academically distinguished archaeologists from universities across the world.  IFR academic excellence, both in research and pedagogy, is second to none.  Our field schools are affordable and we offer a range of Scholarships to deserving students. Each participating student will be awarded 8 Semester Credit Units  (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units) through the IFR’s academic partner – Connecticut College – an elite East Coast college.  Students will receive a letter grade and an official transcript from Connecticut College and credit units may be transferred to the student’s home university.   Tuition for any IFR field school covers all program expenses, including room & board, cost of credit units, insurance, field trips and instruction.  It does not include the cost of airfare to and from the field.

Will you please let your students know about this – and the 29 other – IFR field schools?


Ran Boytner

Our mailing address is: Institute for Field Research 1855 Industrial St. Ste. 106 Los Angeles, CA 90021

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