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Irish Diasporic Narratives in Argentina

A Reconsideration of Home, Identity and Belonging


Sinéad Wall

Departure from Ireland has long occupied a contradictory position in Irish national discourse, alternately viewed as exile or betrayal. This book analyses how departure, as well as notions of home, identity and return, is articulated in the narratives of three members of the Irish diaspora community in Argentina: John Brabazon’s journal The Customs and Habits of the Country of Buenos Ayres from the year 1845 by John Brabazon and His Own Adventures; William Bulfin’s series of sketches for The Southern Cross newspaper, later published as Tales of the Pampas (1900) and Rambles in Eirinn (1907); and Kathleen Nevin’s fictional memoir, You’ll Never Go Back (1946). The book examines the extent to which each writer upholds or contests hegemonic constructions of Irishness, as well as exploring how they negotiate the dual identity of emigrant and potential returnee. Each of the three writers, to varying degrees, challenges the orthodox positionings of the Irish diaspora subject as backward-looking and the Irish emigrant as bound to the national territory. Furthermore, they construct multiple subject positions and contradictory notions of Irishness: national, essentialist and homogeneous versus transnational, diverse and plural. Ultimately, their writings contribute to a rich and nuanced reimagining of the Irish emigrant identity.

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Sinéad Wall was a fine scholar, an inspirational teacher and a much-loved colleague and friend. Tragically, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in early 2016, and died some months later at the end of May 2016. She was, at this moment, in her intellectual and creative prime, teeming with ideas and projects for the future. And yet Sinéad had already achieved a great deal in her life. Her profile within the field of Migration and Latin American Studies was well established. In 2015, shortly before her diagnosis, she was pleased to have secured a contract with Peter Lang for the publication of this book. We are grateful to Peter Lang for honouring the contract made with Sinéad, accepting that we perform in her absence the editorial role that Sinéad would have undertaken herself in preparing the book for publication. It would have been a great source of pride to Sinéad to see her work in print, as indeed it deserves to be, and it is our great pleasure to celebrate this recognition of her work and contribution to the field.

Born in Ireland in 1973, she grew up and was educated in the Hook Head area of County Wexford. She completed her BA in History at the National University of Ireland (University College Dublin) in 1993, after which she spent a year working in Spain. She travelled widely after this, working in London and Australia, and in...

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