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Brewing Identities

Globalisation, Guinness and the Production of Irishness

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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 7. Pure Genius: The Irish Consuming in Ireland

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Understanding identity is a tricky business. People can seem rooted to certain forms of identity and yet, at the same time, flit between them like a bee visiting different plants. Identities are a form of cultural tool-kit that people use to construct an image and understanding of themselves… many people also have a strong sense of identity not just with the village and county in which they grew up, but with Ireland as a whole. Place identity may, then, be best understood as a form of interlocking, overlapping forms of bonding and belonging. It is quite clear that despite globalization and the world increasingly becoming one place, identity with local place is still very strong in Ireland.

(Inglis and Donnelly 2011: 140)

The pub… is an important ethnographic arena, wherein drinking practices and other aspects of Irish culture merge, and where the questions of identity and identification continually matter.

(Wilson 2005: 3)

Drinking is a social, economic, political and cultural act. For a great many people across the globe it involves as much time, effort, and thought as does prayer, church-going, electioneering, work and for some even sleep. Without alcohol and drinking globalisation would be an entirely different thing, as would many other processes of social differentiation and cultural identification.

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