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Brewing Identities

Globalisation, Guinness and the Production of Irishness


Brenda Murphy

While Guinness is a global product, it still contains references to Ireland and it occupies a particular place in imaginings of Irishness. Brewing Identities is unique in that, while it focuses on the (re)production of a specific kind of ethno-national identity– Irishness – it is simultaneously transnational in scope, as the author maps the trails of products, people and symbolic constructs through a globalised world. In pubs from Dublin to London to New York, the reader is taken on a multi-sited ethnography, where stories unfold through observation, interview, and conversation with fellow patrons and pub personnel, while drawing from an ample sampling of discursive and interactional sources from which the author derives her own interpretations and conclusions. Additionally, the book follows the trail of the political economy of Guinness. Brewing Identities produces an engaging and well-grounded mode of inquiry informed not only by multiple sources but by the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies, one that is particularly sensitive and responsive to both the convergences and discontinuities of diverse conditioning factors at work in the generally nebulous and complex sphere of identity production.
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Chapter 3. Producing Guinness: Rituals, Myths & Histories


My Dad loves a pint of good Guinness and he travels a lot around the west coast. Some of the best Guinness pubs that he knows of, are farmers’ pubs. So my dad bought a pair of wellingtons, and he keeps them in the boot of the car, so he can pull them on when he wants to go into those pubs. But he made sure to muddy them up first!

(Margaret, Focus Group, Dublin 1998)

Forget their usefulness and try instead the idea that commodities are good for thinking; treat them as a nonverbal medium for the human creative faculty.

(Douglas and Isherwood 1996: 40–41)

The informed sense of a ‘tradition’ also works in a more ‘mythical’ mode to produce a collective identity and a shared sense of purpose.

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