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Affecting Irishness

Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and Beyond the Nation


Edited By James P. Byrne, Padraig Kirwan and Michael O'Sullivan

This collection of new essays addresses a key debate in Irish studies. While it is important that new research endeavours to accommodate the new and powerful manifestations of Irishness that are evident today in our globalised economy, these considerations are often overlooked. The writers in this book seek to reconcile the established critical perspectives of Irish studies with a forward-looking critical momentum that incorporates the realities of globalisation and economic migration.
The book initiates this vital discussion by bringing together a series of provocative and thoughtful essays, from both renowned and rising international scholars, on the vicissitudes of cultural identity in a post-modern, post-colonial and post-national Ireland. By including work by leading scholars in the fields of film studies, migration and Diaspora studies, travel literature and gender studies, this collection offers a thorough twenty-first-century interrogation of Irishness and provides a timely fusion of international perspectives on Irish cultural identity.


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Irish Studies, the Postcolonial Paradigm and the Comparative Mandate Raphaël Ingelbien 21


Irish Studies, the Postcolonial Paradigm and the Comparative Mandate Raphaël Ingelbien The debate about Ireland’s postcolonial status usually pits postcolonial readings against revisionist analyses: even though the distinction does not do justice to the variety of work in Irish studies, it corresponds to dichotomies that are no less recognizable for being crude even to the point of name-calling: In politics, postcolonialism corresponds to a nationalist agenda, • whereas revisionism is anti-nationalist or even Unionist. Postcolonialism has flourished in Irish literary studies, especially in • North America, whereas revisionism has chiefly appealed to Irish historians, especially those based in the United Kingdom. Postcolonialism draws extensively on theory, whereas revisionism • is empirical. Postcolonialism, finally, is said to be ‘outward-looking’, whereas • revisionism remains largely ‘insular’. The political implications of the debate have unsurprisingly received most attention (see for instance Deane 1994, Lloyd 1993 especially 125, Howe 2000 especially 133–4 and Longley 1994) although they are perhaps easiest to qualify by using counter-examples. The institutional and meth- odological distinctions, on the other hand, are both less often explored and, I suggest, more consistent and revealing. The claim that the postcolonial approach is more ‘outward-looking’ will be the main concern of this article. In order to assess its significance, the rise of postcolonial Irish studies will have to be situated within broader developments that have affected the humanities in the last few decades, and more particularly the competing disciplines of English and comparative literature. 22 Raphaël Ingelbien Irish studies can often blur the disciplinary...

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