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No Man’s Land

Irish Women and the Cultural Present


Sarah O'Connor

This book explores bilingualism and translation in contemporary women’s writing. The author argues that the ‘in-between’ or interstitial linguistic areas of bilingualism, translation and regionalism provide a language and imagery suitable for the expression of a specifically female consciousness. Throughout the book, she draws on the work of writers and critics in both Irish and English to construct a new method of reading Irish women’s writing in the latter half of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first. These bold new readings demonstrate that the concept of interstitiality or the ‘in-between’ can enrich our understanding not only of Irish women’s literature in itself but also of the culture that produces this literature.


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Postscript: Picking Up the Pieces 199


Postscript: Picking Up the Pieces At the time I was researching for this book, Ireland was experiencing rapid economic development. The climactic changes of the first decade of the new millennium created massive new economic and cultural opportuni- ties. This period of unbridled economic development was in some ways a utopian period for Irish culture. There seemed to be a sense of optimism, national self-confidence and openness about the future. Old binaries and ideologies were gradually being eroded due to the inf lux of large numbers of dif ferent races and ethnicities. This did, however, produce a xenophobic backlash in politics and policy, as the 2004 referendum in citizenship dem- onstrates. Over 80 per cent of the electorate voted to rescind the rights of children born in Ireland to automatic citizenship. This outcome contrasts with the artistic celebration of Ireland’s plurality. The results of this refer- endum revealed that Irish society still possessed a strong undercurrent of conservatism and institutional racism. The writing I have examined in this book exudes a sense of openness and optimism about Ireland’s multicultur- alism. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Medbh McGuckian and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill exhibit a willingness to embrace the Other or the stranger within the self. Their work also shows the ways in which tradition can remain relevant in a contemporary world especially for women. However, at the time of publication, Ireland has slipped into a reces- sion, the worst in the history of the state.1 Ireland is now losing its great- est...

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