UCL Anthropology


Dr Marcas Mag Oireachtaigh


Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
1st Aug 2019

Research summary

Dr Mag Oireachtaigh's research examines the violent aftermaths of war, genocide, and revolution, traversing the thematic domains of language, identity, racisms, democracy, sovereignty and colonialism. His first book manuscript, Spectres of the New Rwanda: Genocide Ideology, Democracy, Terror, examines the Rwandan state’s on-going “war” against “genocide ideology” (ingengabitekerezo ya jenoside), which is prohibited in law as “thoughts” of ethnic hatred that threaten the recurrence of genocide. The book investigates the contradiction whereby the campaign against genocide ideology appears to re-inscribe the very terms and divisions it sets out to erase, thereby raising the spectre of renewed violence in the lives of ordinary Rwandans. This project has involved research in those institutions charged with eradicating genocide ideology, including Rwanda’s prisons, layperson-run genocide courts, military-run re-education camps, and state-run genocide commemoration events. He has been concurrently working on a second book project which offers a critique of the interdisciplinary literatures on transitional justice, based upon ethnographic research generated from attending over 150 hearings of Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts. These specialized genocide tribunals, which were in operation between 2002 and 2012, authorized ordinary people without legal training to try and sentence their own neighbours with up to life in prison, passing judgment on 1.9 million cases at an official conviction rate of 86 percent. Dr Mag Oireachtaigh's research has been supported by fellowships from a number of institutions, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the United States Institute of Peace. When called upon, he has served as an expert witness on asylum cases for Rwandans forced into exile.

Teaching summary

Marcas's teaching and writing brings social theoretical critique to bear anthropology, history, African Studies, and the social sciences and humanities more broadly, taking up the call to decolonize university curricula. He draws upon the resources of deconstruction, in particular, to critically examine liberal, scientific knowledge production and its past and present roles in various imperial projects. He has taught courses on: violent aftermaths; hate speech, language and injury; deconstructive research; insurgent theory; qualitative methods; and decolonizing the university.


Doctorate, Dr |


Marcas Mag Oireachtaigh is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and an Affiliate Lecturer at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation at University College London. In 2016 he received his PhD which was awarded the Most Outstanding Dissertation in the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. He received his masters from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from University College London. With a family life that spans both sides of the border in Ireland, he has long been pressed into thinking critically about on-going colonial histories, and their continuing erasure, as well as postcolonial identities and conflicts.