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Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland


Edited By Eamon Maher

In the space of a few short decades, Ireland has become one of the most globalised societies in the Western world. The full ramifications of this transformation for traditional Irish communities, religious practice, economic activity, as well as literature and the arts, are as yet unknown. What is known is that Ireland’s largely unthinking embrace of globalisation has at times had negative consequences. Unlike some other European countries, Ireland has eagerly and sometimes recklessly grasped the opportunities for material advancement afforded by the global project.
This collection of essays, largely the fruit of two workshops organised under the auspices of the Humanities Institute of Ireland at University College Dublin and the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, explores how globalisation has taken such a firm hold on Irish society and provides a cultural perspective on the phenomenon. The book is divided into two sections. The first examines various manifestations of globalisation in Irish society whereas the second focuses on literary representations of globalisation. The contributors, acknowledged experts in the areas of cultural theory, religion, sociology and literature, offer a panoply of viewpoints of Ireland’s interaction with globalisation.


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7. Contemporary Irish Fiction and the Transnational Imaginary Anne Fogarty 133


7. Contemporary Irish Fiction and the Transnational Imaginary Anne Fogarty Globalisation is an increasingly vexed phenomenon, even as it has become a pervasive and ineradicable aspect of twenty-first-century existence. Prior to the economic downturn in 2009, it had frequently been uncritically embraced by Irish social analysts and seen as a guarantor of economic advancement and a token of futurity and unfettered progress. Further, it was advocated as a panacea for insularity and a safeguard both against traditionalism and regressive tendencies to dwell on the past. Often, its impact was measured solely through economic indicators or in terms of easily quantifiable patterns of social change. The manner in which globalisa- tion both impinged on the cultural sphere and was reflected there has until recently been largely ignored.1 In addition, the pressing ethical concerns raised by globalisation and the shifts in values that it effected have been insufficiently probed in an Irish context.2 This essay sets out to consider how debates about globalisation might be seen to inflect the work of three contemporary Irish writers. In examining Zoli by Colum McCann, The Deportees by Roddy Doyle and The Gather- ing by Anne Enright, my aim is not to propose that these texts perform 1 Patrick Lonergan’s study of Irish theatre is a pioneering investigation of this neglected topic. See Theatre and Globalization: Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). 2 A number of recent studies, however, have begun this inquiry into ethical values and globalisation. See Tom Inglis,...

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