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Ireland: Looking East

Edited By Christophe Gillissen

If Ireland’s relations with the Western world have been the object of numerous scientific publications, its links with the East have been neglected by research. The aim of this book is to redress that imbalance by proposing studies of various aspects of Ireland’s interactions with the East.
It is a multidisciplinary publication, dealing with some of the historical, political, religious, cultural, demographic and sociological connections between Ireland – both North and South – and the East.
The chapters, which offer novel perspectives for the field of Irish studies, are organised in a chronological sequence, from the mid-19 th century to the present. They focus on three main areas: the links between Ireland and the Asian continent, notably India, China and Turkey; its interactions with the Jewish people and the state of Israel; and its relations with Eastern European countries, in particular Poland and Lithuania.

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Introduction 9

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9 Introduction Christophe GILLISSEN Université de Paris IV – Sorbonne In the past Ireland was the ultima thule of the European continent, turned towards the west and whatever regions – the islands of the blessed or the land of eternal youth – lay beyond. After the discovery of the New World, the Irish were prominent among the many peoples who made the transatlantic journey, and they established strong links between their home country and the west, which have been well documented. Ireland’s links with the east, however, remain more obscure, not to say something of a terra incognita. In order to explore those connec- tions, a conference on the theme of “Ireland: Going East” was organized in 2007 by Wesley Hutchinson and Carle Bonafous-Murat of the University of Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, under the aegis of the French society for Irish studies, the SOFEIR (Société française d’études irlandaises).1 The great wealth, novelty and variety of the papers presented clearly required a publication. Given the abundance of material, however, it was decided to do so in several stages. This book, which constitutes a first selection of the proceedings, deals with some of the cultural, historical and political aspects of Irish relations with the east. They are organized in a broadly chronological sequence, around three main geographical areas: the links between Ireland and Asia, more specifically India, China and Turkey; the interactions between Ireland and the people of Israel; and finally the relations between Ireland and Eastern Europe. Christine KINEALY and...

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