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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 5. Interpellating Genders: Gendered Places, Pub Spaces


Have you ever walked into a room and realised that your very presence was violating some unwritten taboo? That, for instance, you were the wrong gender in the wrong place?

Ten years ago I walked into a rural pub and an unnerving silence descended. All my senses told me something was wrong. Part of me wanted to run out, but another held on in defiance as I realised my error. In the pub’s porch there were two doors; one leading to the lounge and the other to the bar; and I was standing in the bar, with its unwritten Men ONLY rule in full force.

The bar was full of men—at the counter drinking, reading the racing page, playing darts or generally chatting. The decoration was minimal, the floors uncarpeted and the seating wooden.

I ordered a drink and moved into the lounge as quickly as possible. Once I left the bar and travelled the six paces to the lounge, I could hear the chat resume in the bar. Sitting in the lounge, which had fitted carpet, fake leather upholstered seats, and featured a fireplace, ornaments, pictures and a vase of plastic flowers, all were appeased. I was now ‘in the right place’. Indeed, without anyone having said a word to me, I had been put in my place.

Guinness is a gendered artefact. Its resonance is masculine. The advertising texts speak almost exclusively to heterosexual men and use a grammar...

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