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EUROPEAN POSTCOLONIALITY: THE SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN/ IRISH FREE STATE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK, 1932 WILLIAM M. HARRISON the colonial experience, as Edward Said mentions in his foreword to Selected Subaltern Studies, has summoned several nationalist responses: the quit India movement, the ideology of Arab nationalism, the pan-African movement, etc.”1 While Said dismisses these movements as no longer contemporary sources of political solutions in a “post-independence” world, his grouping cast the postcolonial issue in the traditional Western /non-Western dichotomy, what he calls in Orientalism, “the North/South one, the have/have-not one, the imperialist/anti-imperialist one, the white/colored one,” which he says “we cannot get around . . . by pretending they do not exist.”2 The nationalist responses occupy the space of the non-Western. The political results of grouping together the postindependence/postcolonial nations seem dangerously imperialist, suggestive of a movement that merely reinscribes the derogatory idea of the “third world” within a new deWnition without freeing the postcolonial nation from, in the Western viewpoint, its position of contrasted otherness. Fear of domination and its replication appears especially pertinent when approaching the problem of Irish postcoloniality. As a Western nationstate , as a facet of the genealogy of white ethnicity, as a locus of cultural objects which have been claimed by the Modern and the Cosmopolitan, Ireland cannot rightly Wx itself within the “Orientalist,” or at least non-Western side of the postcolonial dichotomy. Said does address Irish postcoloniality in “Yeats and Decolonization,” grouping Ireland among a list of “sites of THE SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN/IRISH FREE STATE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK, 1932 35 1 Edward Said, “Foreword,” Selected Subaltern Studies, eds. Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 1x, x. 2 Edward Said, Orientalism, (New York: Vintage, 1978), p. 327. [colonial] contention well before 1870.”3 But as an object of the “modern European imperialism” manifest around 1850, only the Irish, a native European populace, faced an analogous—though perhaps not equal—situation of colonial repression as those of the non-West (“Yeats” 70). And yet Ireland , to apply metaphorically Said’s comment on Yeats, “isn’t thought of as a natural, or card-carrying, member” of the postcolonial world (“Yeats” 73). But to ignore the basic fact of Anglo-Irish colonial repression would damage the intention of the postcolonial project by denying the political realities of the oppressed; equally problematic, to attempt to work Ireland into the discourse could work as a form of depoliticization, displacement, or appropriation of the non-Western in terms of the West. The Western/non-Western, or North/South, polarity provides its share of diYculties for the Irish question. The very problem of Irish postcoloniality —or coloniality, as the six Ulster counties remain under British imperialist domination—fragments the Western colonizing monolith. Kevin Collins explains Ireland’s unusual position: The Irish experience of cultural invasion is one shared by all colonized peoples, but the Irish experience is unique in several respects. Firstly, . . .the Irish are alone among western European peoples in having been subjected to colonialism elsewhere reserved for Africa, Latin America or Oceania . Secondly, the Irish were not some ‘primitive’ people isolated from the mainstream of cultural evolution, but a people fully involved in European life—and indeed a major inXuence on the form taken by that European life. This fact seems to have been missed . . . .4 The four hundred years of English colonialism in Ireland are well documented ; among the results were the suppression or elimination of the native THE SAORSTÁT ÉIREANN/IRISH FREE STATE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK, 1932 36 3 Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, and Edward W. Said, Nationalism, Colonialism and Literature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990), p. 70. 4 Kevin Collins, The Cultural Conquest of Ireland, (Dublin: Mercier, 1990), p. 12. In Collins’s own comments above, terms like “‘primitive’ people” (read non-Western) or the phrasing of “colonialism elsewhere reserved for” the non-West as if such repression is unjustified only for Éire) all belie an internal discourse rooted in the Eurocentric identity. Of course, such a placement in the dominant Eurocentric discourse may serve to empower Ireland and Irish culture, but there also appears a risk that such an action...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 35-42
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
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