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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


Edited By Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken

Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory presents the latest research from Irish studies scholars across a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, theatre, photography and folklore, and generates new and challenging insights into the dynamics of cultural remembrance in Irish society. Featuring contributions by leading researchers in the field such as Guy Beiner, Graham Dawson and Emilie Pine, this collection demonstrates how the examination of Irish cultural legacies can illuminate our understanding of processes of identity formation, heritage policies, canonization, musealization and the transgenerational and transcultural inflections of the past. Investigating topics such as trauma, contested politics and commemorative practices, and exploring recent theoretical developments, the volume offers an interdisciplinary overview of the recent cross-fertilization between memory studies and Irish studies.
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Introduction: Transitions and Transformations (Marguérite Corporaal / Christopher Cusack / Ruud Van Den Beuken)


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Introduction: Transitions and Transformations

In ‘Home Sickness’, a story from George Moore’s collection The Untilled Field (1905), the old emigrant James Bryden reminisces about his childhood village in the West of Ireland: the bar-room in New York’s bowery is ‘forgotten […] and the things he saw most clearly were the green hillside, and the bog lake and the rushes about it, and the greater lake in the distance, and behind it the blue lines of wandering hills’.1 Bryden’s nostalgia for his native community demonstrates the fact that emigrants’ identities are often hyphenated, that is, divided between homeland and host society.2 Simultaneously, the local-colour tale illustrates the significant role that memory plays in Irish and Irish diaspora cultures and societies – a phenomenon that Emilie Pine has described in The Politics of Irish Memory as the ‘Irish cultural obsession with the past’.3

Over the past few years, the centrality of remembrance to Ireland’s political and cultural landscape as well as to Irish communities worldwide could not be overlooked. The launch of an annual international Famine commemoration day in 2009, which takes place on both sides of the Atlantic, illustrates the urge to remember even the most painful aspects of what Jan Assmann terms the ‘fateful events of the past’.4 Moreover, the fact that, upon the successful end of the bailout in December 2013, ← 1 | 2 → Finance Minister Michael Noonan stated that Ireland’s financial crash...

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