Personal Vision & Outlook
Having been fortunate enough to have switched ‘disciplines’ as a graduate Ruth Finnegan has from the start sought the enlightenment of interdisciplinary perspectives on whatever she is currently studying (helped of course by the breadth both of her Oxford classics degree and her foundation in anthropology); she finds single-discipline approaches both constricting and unrevealing. It is this transdisciplinary perspective which has enabled her to work at the intersections of several disciplines, a great strength to her work.
Another of her concerns has been to bring home the importance of the scholars (often referred to as the ‘amateurs’) who work outside the universities and the recognised sphere of academe. In the past probably more fully recognised but now, owing to a number of university and government positions, allowed to slip from view, it is to these scholars, she argues, untrammelled by bureaucratic chains and thought, that we principally owe the emergence of new disciplines (such as ethnomusicology/ popular music, folklore. or astrophysics), original discoveries and unconventional but fruitful new perspectives . In keeping with this she has been at the forefront of recognising the revolutionary potentials of self-publication, print-on-demand, and open access.
Since 2014 she has aimed to devote the main proportion of her literary and lecturing income (such as it is) to a range of charities, believing that small amounts of money – in her case around £300 each – given to hands-on groups such as Combat Stress, WaterAid, and peace-and-reconciliation charities in Northern Ireland are the most effective. She hopes that her publications in the future will be successful enough to increase these amounts and reach out to other causes close to her heart. `
Ruth has always been both inspired and challenged by her father’s peace-building activities (fully supported by her mother) in the then hostile climate of Northern Ireland , and her parents’ shared work to cross all divides whether based on religion, class, employment/unemployment, gender, or nationality. She is intensely proud to have inherited their vision and to have carried it on, not through politics but in her own way, in writing, publishing and research (examples being her reprint of her father’s impressive – and at the time very brave – ‘War at any price?’ – and her own edited ‘Peace writing’ collection).