Whiteness and diasporic Irishness: nation, gender and class

Walter, Bronwen (2011) Whiteness and diasporic Irishness: nation, gender and class. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. ISSN 1369-183X

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Abstract

Whiteness is often detached from the notion of diaspora in the recent flurry of interest in the phenomenon, yet it is a key feature of some of the largest and oldest displacements. This paper explores the specific contexts of white racial belonging and status over two centuries in two main destinations of the Irish diaspora, the USA and Britain. Its major contribution is a tracing of the untold story of ‘How the Irish became white in Britain’ to parallel and contrast with the much more fully developed narrative in the USA. It argues that, contrary to popular belief, the racialisation of the Irish in England did not fade away at the end of the nineteenth century but became transmuted in new forms which have continued to place the ‘white’ Irish outside the boundaries of the English nation. These have been strangely ignored by social scientists, who conflate Irishness and working-class identities in England without acknowledging the distinctive contribution of Irish backgrounds to constructions of class difference. Gender locates Irish women and men differently in relation to these class positions, for example allowing mothers to be blamed for the perpetuation of the underclass. Class and gender are also largely unrecognised dimensions of Irish ethnicity in the USA, where the presence of ‘poor white’ neighbourhoods continues to challenge the iconic story of Irish upward mobility. Irishness thus remains central to the construction of mainstream ‘white’ identities in both the USA and Britain into the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Citation: Walter, B., 2011. Whiteness and diasporic Irishness: nation, gender and class. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(9), pp.1295-1312..
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mr I Walker
Date Deposited: 30 May 2013 14:37
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2016 12:51
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/293092

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