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Stereotypes, Ideology and Foreign Correspondents

German Media Representations of Ireland, 1946–2010

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Fergal Lenehan

This book examines German media representations of Ireland from 1946 to 2010, from the post-war period to the years of the so-called «Celtic Tiger» and Ireland’s subsequent economic downturn. It charts both the patterns and the inconsistencies in depictions of Ireland in the weekly publications Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, as well as in German cinema.

Cultural stereotypes may be employed in the furthering of a problematic cultural essentialism; however, they may also be used to «play» with readers’ or viewers’ expectations. They may be juxtaposed with newer cultural generalizations, or re-moulded to fit a transformed cultural reality. The representations of Ireland examined in this book are revealed as inherently ideological, consistently locating Ireland outside of an evolving European societal «normalcy». While this is often presented as something highly positive, the book argues that it implicitly places Germany at the centre of Europe and may be viewed as a type of excluding Europeanism.

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Chapter 2: Unravelling a “Canon” of Representations: Irish Stereotypes in German Cinema

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← 34 | 35 →

CHAPTER 2

Unravelling a “Canon” of Representations: Irish Stereotypes in German Cinema

National stereotypes only, of course, entered wider circulation when the arena of direct and indirect experience – the social stock of knowledge of individuals – became greatly expanded in the early nineteenth century. Hans Henning Hahn perceives a qualitative increase in the use and role of national stereotypes in the period surrounding 1830. Hahn proffers three reasons for the wider proliferation of national stereotypes during this period.1 The establishment of a mass press directed, potentially, at all citizens, marks the early nineteenth century and, coupled with growing literacy, resulted in the mounting importance of (stereotypical) cultural generalizations in public life. The nineteenth century was also the age in which various nationalisms were created. The collective and individual consciousness became nationalized and the nation now developed as die bestimmende Großgruppe; the most dominant large group.2 This also meant that national stereotypes, both hetero and auto-stereotypes, assumed a currency that they formerly did not have. Lastly, in the post-1848 era, the discourse surrounding international relations came to be viewed as an arena of “natural” antagonism between states and nations. A misunderstood national and socio-political Darwinism, thus, now dominated the perception of international relations. This led to an increase in the use of national stereotypes – for national groupings both outside and inside of state borders. ← 35 | 36 →

German stereotypes of Ireland may, therefore, be seen as largely retaining their historical roots in...

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