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Trauma and Identity in Contemporary Irish Culture

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Edited By Melania Terrazas Gallego

The last two centuries of Irish history have seen great traumas that continue to affect Irish society. Through constructing cultural trauma, Irish society can recognize human pain and its source/s and become receptive to the idea of taking significant and responsible measures to remedy it. The intention of this volume is to show the mediating role of the literature and film scholar, the archivist, the social media professional, the historian, the musician, the artist and the poet in identifying Irish cultural trauma past and present, in illuminating Irish national identity (which is shifting so much today), in paying tribute to the memory and suffering of others, in showing how to do things with words and, thus, how concrete action might be taken.

Trauma and Identity in Contemporary Irish Culture makes a case for the value of trauma and memory studies as a means of casting new light on the meaning of Irish identity in a number of contemporary Irish cultural practices, and of illuminating present-day attitudes to the past. The critical approaches herein are of a very interdisciplinary nature, since they combine aspects of sociology, philosophy and anthropology, among other fields. This collection is intended to lead readers to reconsider the connections between trauma, Irish cultural memory, identity, famine, diaspora, gender, history, revolution, the Troubles, digital media, literature, film, music and art.

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Introduction

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According to Jeffrey C. Alexander, “Cultural trauma occurs when members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group consciousness, marking their memories forever and changing their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways” (1). The study of cultural identity, for its part, emerges out of a sense of belonging to a group and, at the same time, because of all the aspects that make that group different from others. It is also possible to examine identity as an effect of social dynamics in which other determining factors, such as class, nation, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and religion, play an important role. Identity is at stake in questions and problematics to do with all these issues. Thus, the study of cultural identity is “multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, with roots in social/personality psychology, microsociology, and anthropology” (Grayman-Simpson 2).

The analysis of culture from a combined aesthetic-ethical perspective is intrinsic to various critical approaches that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century, “the ethical turn” that took place “in the related fields of literary theory and moral philosophy, the most relevant of which are Trauma Studies, Memory Studies and the Theory of Affects” (Onega et al. 1). The multiple nature of trauma and memory studies, which combines aspects of history, anthropology and sociology, among other disciplines, is also extremely valuable as a means of casting new light on the notion of identity, because it is dynamic, located...

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