Bandits, Ballads & Outlaws / ICFE 2019 Report

Conference Organisers:

Pascale Baker (School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, UCD):

Barbara Hillers (Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University Bloomnigton):

Bairbre Ni Floinn (School of Irish, Celtic and Folklore, UCD):

Bandits, Ballads & Outlaws / ICFE 2019 Programme

On the 10th and 11th December 2019 the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, and the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore joined forces to put on the interdisciplinary conference ‘Outlaws, Ballads and Bandits in Popular Tradition’ which was this year combined with the annual Irish Conference of Folklore and Ethnology. We had a wide array of speakers travelling from Iceland, the States and the Philippines, to name a few locations, and the delegates ranged from established scholars and Emeritus professors to PhD students, who were able to participate via conference call.

Sahin Yaldiz on the Haiduks of Anatolia

We had invited two keynote speakers: Professor Juan Pablo Dabove from Colorado, Boulder, and Associate Professor Éva Guillorel from the University of Caen, Normandy, who gave the annual Almqvist Lecture. Both attended and took part in the conference over the two days and spoke on illuminating topics at the close of each day: Professor Dabove on ‘Definitions of Banditry in Latin America’ and how that applied to the Mexico of Pancho Villa, and Associate Professor Guillorel on ‘Breton Ballads and Banditry’.

If You Come with me to the Woods, You’ll Learn How to Kill: Bandits and Outlaws in Breton Ballads

Associate Professor Éva Guillorel (University of Caen)

gave this year’s Almqvist Lecture in International Folklore.

Éva Guillorel  is a specialist on Breton ballads and Associate Professor in Early Modern History, University of Caen, Normandy. She is a Senior Lecturer in early modern history and her Ph.D. focused on Breton oral ballads collected during her ethnographic fieldwork in the 19th-20th centuries as a source for the history of Brittany between the 16th and 18th centuries.  She has written widely on this topic and published Miracles and Murders: An Introductory Anthology of Breton Ballads with Mary-Ann Constantine in 2017. Her current work is focused on the circulation and transformation of oral cultures over space and time, including cultural transfers between Europe and North America.


Banditry in Latin America: Notes Towards an (In)definition

Professor Juan Pablo Dabove (CU Boulder)

Professor Juan Pablo Dabove is a specialist on Latin American literature and cultural history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has focused on the period from Latin American Independence to the present. He has focused particularly on bandit narratives and more recently has been working in the field of Gothic Literature and Romanticism. Alongside, numerous journal articles and several edited volumes, he has published two monographs on banditry in Latin American literature: Bandit Narratives, from Villa to Chávez. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017 and Nightmares of the Lettered City: Banditry and Literature in Latin America, 1816-1929. Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2007. 


As well as the generous contribution of the College, the conference was enhanced with the support of the HI, the two organising Schools, An Cumann le Béaloideas Éireann/the Folklore Society of Ireland and the National Folklore Collection in UCD. Jonny Dillon of the NFC was able to arrange a performance of bandit ballads on the first night, with the singing of traditional Irish songs, which other oral folklore scholars then participated in with their own traditional outlaw/rebel songs (see below). We were very fortunate indeed to get the support of the French, Spanish and Peruvian Embassies for the wine reception on the first night, with the Peruvians serving Pisco Sour cocktails.

The conference brought together many scholars from different disciplines including the historical, literary, folkloric, and toponymical. However, despite this, the subject matter had much in common: an overarching understanding of the figure of the bandit/outlaw gave the event a coherent feel and the panels brought the material together in a thematic way. There was a focus on Ireland and its rich bandit history and folklore, but this in no way overshadowed the interest in other bandit traditions. Some of the more unusual/ perhaps lesser-known bandit cultures that were discussed centred on the Haiduks of Anatolia and the Dacoits of India. The conference was rounded off with a guided tour of the National Folklore Collection at UCD, a Unesco Memory of the World-registered resource, to showcase the unique material available to folklore and other scholars on topics such as banditry in Ireland.

Dewi Evans on Wales and its Bandits
Irish Bandits panel introduced by Barbara Hillers.

Such was the interest and positive energy generated by the event, particularly between the two organising Schools, that a publication in the form of an edited volume is currently in the planning stages. We have had interest in publishing the whole proceedings from Cambridge Scholars Press and in publishing a more focused volume on Irish bandits from Peter Lang in their Reimagining Ireland Series. There is a Routledge Series on Banditry in History, Literature and Culture which offers the most prestigious publication opportunity. The organisers need to discuss these various options and how best to proceed going forward.

 Women in Banditry panel with Sarah Harlan-Haughey and Ursula Fanning.
Catalina Jaramillo on Escobar as a Robin Hood.

Dr Pascale Baker, 13.01. 2020 (on behalf of co-organisers: Dr Bairbre Ni Fhloinn and Dr Barbara Hillers)