Donica O’Malley Heads for Scotland on Nationality Rooms Fellowship

This summer, PhD student Donica O’Malley will spend five weeks in Scotland collecting research for her project on popular culture perceptions of “gingerism”—or the bullying, harassment, and other forms of prejudicial treatment of people with red hair.  Scotland currently has the highest percentage of redheaded people in the world.  Some questions she will explore are: what are the discourses surrounding perceptions of gingerism?  How and why did Scotland’s “ginger pride” parade, which began as a spoof on gingerism, evolve into a more serious event?  What if any relation is there between current perceptions of gingerism and the history of political violence between Britain and Ireland?  Why is there so much public outrage against a Scottish genetics company that recently released a controversial DNA test for the “redhead gene”?

Donica will spend much of her time in Scotland (with short visits to Ireland and England) conducting oral history interviews with both ordinary citizens and public figures who have in some way, contributed to the popular culture of gingerism.  She plans to meet with participants of Scotland’s first ginger pride parade, and the owner of a ginger-pride-themed online shop, her customers, and others.  She will also conduct archival research on magazine and newspaper coverage of gingerism and ginger pride events, at the National Records of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, which house periodicals that are difficult to obtain in the United States.

The research Donica will conduct will help her write her dissertation on “Popular Culture Perceptions of Gingerism in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the United States.”