“SMASHED: Speaking Histories of Insurrection” consisted of an audio piece by Hannah O’Flynn that forms part of “The Critical Drinking Curriculum”, a series co-curated by Vita Buivid and Hannah O’Flynn on the political history of alcohol. The piece enquires into the Irish pub as a political space for community building, transmission of oral history and anti-colonial organising within the context of the long British colonial occupation of Ireland.

The work shown is a sonic collage of conversations with Michelle Turley, Pádraigín O’Flynn, Ian Nolan and Niall O’Flynn on the space created around the practice of collective drinking, and its relation to the disavowal of and organisation against an oppressive colonial regime. The research on the collective memories of Ireland’s colonisation and resistance is approached through storytelling and the re-telling of personal and family histories deeply entrenched in this history.

The space of the pub becomes the prism into this research due to drunkenness’ close relationship to the transmission of oral history. This is of particular importance in the Irish context due to its long history under colonial rule, where official written history was controlled by the British — drunk oral history becoming, thus, a possible space for insurgency.

What place does the pub occupy within the social fabric? In what ways can the pub be a space of learning? How do the voices of the oppressed move through and around a system of violent silencing? In what ways does drunk speech escape discipline? What are the ways in which one listens? What does contagious singing have to do with collective political activation? Is there a direct relation between higher alcohol consumption and political despair?