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Affecting Irishness

Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and Beyond the Nation

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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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Representing Travellers Maureen T. Reddy 145

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Representing Travellers1 Maureen T. Reddy Representations of Irishness are ubiquitous in the United States, reaching apotheosis in the weeks leading up to 17 March each year. One would be hard pressed to find even a smallish American city without an ‘Irish’ pub, for example, with many of those pubs hosting traditional music nights and serving as the meeting space for Irish-American social groups and politi- cal organisations. A quick search through any single week’s news stories archived online turns up numerous articles mentioning Ireland, the Irish, and/or Irish-Americans, and not just in Boston or New York. However, with very few exceptions, this Irish presence reflects a narrow view of Irish- ness, one which excludes people of colour and Travellers; in US popular representations, Irishness is unproblematically white, Christian, settled. One might expect that coverage of the Irish World Cup teams, the popular- ity of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (in which Brad Pitt played an Irish Traveller), racial incidents in Ireland (the recent versions of the Lonely Planet guides to Ireland mention racist attacks as one possible travel hazard) and the occasional news article on immigration to Ireland in recent years – to note just a few obvious challenges to a monolithic Irishness – would disrupt the circulation of such mistaken or partial notions of Irishness, but they have had little impact. Indeed, dominant US versions of Irishness appear end- lessly capable of absorbing such challenges and using them to reconstitute the dominant; in that way, American notions of Irishness are simulacra, which are...

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