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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 6. The Diasporic Pub: Racism, Authenticity and Hybridity


The capacity to live with difference is, in my view, the coming question of the twenty-first century.

(Hall 1993: 361)

As we sat drinking pints of Guinness in the Starting Gate Pub in Queens, New York, one of the members of the focus group asked to remain anonymous if I used the story he was about to tell. He seemed concerned that someone might overhear, and while telling the story he seemed fearful of being caught recalling the event.

Cormac described an interview for a construction job some months earlier in an Irish pub in Boston. On arrival in the pub, he was greeted in Gaelic (Irish). He wasn’t a fluent Irish speaker but he managed to understand and reply, and the entire interview was conducted in Irish. He didn’t get the job because the company had an unwritten policy, which meant that they only recruited men from Connemara, a region on the west coast of Ireland.

(Cormac, The Starting Gate, Queens, New York 1997) ← 123 | 124 →

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