Cian T. McMahon, Ph.D., 2010
April 1, 2021
I am an associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I hold a joint appointment in the Department of History and Honors College. As a scholar of transnational history, I seek to compare, contrast, and connect the world-scattered Irish in the nineteenth century.
I have written two academic monographs since graduating from Carnegie Mellon. In The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea during the Great Irish Famine (New York: New York University Press, 2021), I use the letters and diaries of the emigrants themselves to show how the actual, lived experience of the migration process “fostered the development of countless new threads in the worldwide web of the Irish diaspora.” My first book, based on my 2010 dissertation, was entitled The Global Dimensions of Irish Identity: Race, Nation, and the Popular Press, 1840-1880(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Employing manuscript and printed primary sources from Ireland, Australia, and the United States, it shows that by connecting the world-scattered Irish, newspapers provided the intellectual basis for a form of what I call “global nationalism.” This new identity, I argue, expanded the modern limits of citizenship, mobility, and belonging.
My time at Carnegie Mellon was a valuable and precious experience. The History Department is an intimate and truly interdisciplinary community where I was exposed to a range of sources and ideas I might not have found elsewhere. In particular, meeting and working with anthropologists gave me the tools and the confidence to challenge the archives in new ways. Moreover, Pittsburgh is just a fantastically livable, exciting city where one’s stipend can go much further than in other places. In sum, I am deeply grateful for the friends, colleagues, ideas, and good times I encountered at CMU… although I am still slightly jealous that the intramural ball hockey team that I co-founded won the championship AFTER I left for Vegas.