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Other People's Diasporas

Negotiating Race in Contemporary Irish and Irish-American Culture

by Sinead Moynihan

Publication Year: 2013

With the economic rise of the “Celtic Tiger” in the 1990s, Irish culture was deeply impacted by a concurrent rise in immigration. A nation tending to see itself as a land of emigrants now saw waves of newcomers. Moynihan takes as her central question a formulation by sociologist Steve Garner: “What happens when other people’s diasporas converge on the homeland of a diasporic people?” Moynihan’s approach to Ireland’s changing demographics is, however, cultural rather than sociological; she delves into fiction, drama, comedy, and cinema since 1998 for its representations of and insights into race relations. She is particularly interested in how contemporary Irish culture looks to history of Irish-American and African-American race relations as a way to understand its own immigrant communities, arguing that “one of the most palpable trends in contemporary Irish culture is the juxtaposition, literal or implied, of narratives of Irish emigration to the U.S. with those of immigration to Ireland.” Individual chapters treat of bestselling novelists Joseph O’Connor (brother of singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor) and Roddy Doyle, and the comedian Des Bishop. A chapter each is devoted to Irish/Irish American drama and cinema.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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pp. 1-1

Front Flap, Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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pp. 2-6


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I wish to express my gratitude to the Leverhulme Trust for awarding me the Early Career Fellowship that enabled me to research and write this book. In July 2007, when the project was still in its nascent stage, I took part in the Clinton Institute for American Studies Summer School at University College Dublin. ...

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Introduction: Other People’s Diasporas

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pp. 1-28

On July 21, 2009, the Irish Times editorial was concerned with two issues: the changing face of migration and the death of Frank McCourt, who had passed away two days previously. In the first item, reflecting on a three-part series by migration correspondent Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, ...

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1. Crossing the Black and Green Atlantics: Joseph O’Connor’s Fictions of Irish America

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pp. 29-66

In the above epigraphs, Joseph O’Connor identifies the key reversal that took place in Ireland’s migration pattern between the 1980s and the early years of the twenty-first century. The first quotation refers to an anecdote that O’Connor recounts from his university days in the mid-1980s. ...

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2. “Maybe It Was Riverdance” Roddy Doyle’s Fictions of Multicultural Ireland

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pp. 67-98

In his introduction to Ireland in Exile, Joseph O’Connor looks back to 1987, the year in which Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments was first published, just as he anticipates the views of Doyle’s Declan O’Connor in 2004. As Diane Negra and others contend, the promotion of Irish identity as “oppressed and post-colonial” ...

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3. Playing the Race Card: Staging Immigration in Irish and Irish American Drama

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pp. 99-132

In Janet Noble’s play Away Alone, which opened at the Irish Arts Center in New York in December 1989, young Irish immigrants struggle with homesickness, low-paid jobs, and, for the ones without the appropriate work permits, fear of discovery by the authorities. ...

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4. Stand(ing) Up for the Immigrants: The Work of Comedian Des Bishop

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pp. 133-161

In the first episode of the third and final series of Father Ted, which aired on Britain’s Channel 4 on March 15, 1998, Ted and his hapless sidekick, Dougal, are obliged to tidy the living room because their housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, is incapacitated after falling off the roof. ...

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5. To Hell’s Kitchen and Back: Migration Between Ireland and America in Contemporary Cinema

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pp. 162-192

In February 2008, a little-known Irish folk band called Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, inspired by reports that US presidential candidate Barack Obama had ancestry that could be traced back to Moneygall, County Offaly, wrote a song called “There’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama.” ...

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Epilogue: The Departees?

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pp. 193-212

This book is about reversals. In the course of writing it, yet another reversal took place, one that is most usefully illustrated by drawing yet again upon the emigration-immigration dialectic that has provided the impetus for this entire work. On June 23, 2007—some seven weeks after Donoghue’s novel was published— ...

Works Cited

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pp. 213-236


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pp. 237-242

About the Author, Back Flap, Back Cover

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pp. 255-257

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652120
E-ISBN-10: 0815652127
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633105
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633106

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867740810
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Other People's Diasporas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Blacks -- Race identity -- Ireland.
  • Whites -- Race identity -- Ireland.
  • Immigrants in motion pictures
  • Immigrants in literature.
  • Race in motion pictures.
  • Race in literature -- Congresses.
  • Irish Americans -- Intellectual life.
  • Ireland -- Intellectual life.
  • Irish Americans -- Race identity.
  • African Americans -- Race identity.
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