Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race

Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race

Bruce Nelson
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 348
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s432
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  • Book Info
    Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race
    Book Description:

    This is a book about Irish nationalism and how Irish nationalists developed their own conception of the Irish race. Bruce Nelson begins with an exploration of the discourse of race--from the nineteenth--century belief that "race is everything" to the more recent argument that there are no races. He focuses on how English observers constructed the "native" and Catholic Irish as uncivilized and savage, and on the racialization of the Irish in the nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States, where Irish immigrants were often portrayed in terms that had been applied mainly to enslaved Africans and their descendants.

    Most of the book focuses on how the Irish created their own identity--in the context of slavery and abolition, empire, and revolution. Since the Irish were a dispersed people, this process unfolded not only in Ireland, but in the United States, Britain, Australia, South Africa, and other countries. Many nationalists were determined to repudiate anything that could interfere with the goal of building a united movement aimed at achieving full independence for Ireland. But others, including men and women who are at the heart of this study, believed that the Irish struggle must create a more inclusive sense of Irish nationhood and stand for freedom everywhere. Nelson pays close attention to this argument within Irish nationalism, and to the ways it resonated with nationalists worldwide, from India to the Caribbean.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4223-0
    Subjects: History, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Part 1. The Making of the Irish Race
    • Prologue: Arguing about (the Irish) Race
      (pp. 3-16)

      This book is about race.¹ Therefore it must begin with the acknowledgment that few subjects have proven more contentious in the last several decades.² It was not so long ago—certainly in my “growing up” years, the 1950s—that race appeared to be not only a social phenomenon of major importance but also a fixed and immutable category. Then you were either white or black—or perhaps red, yellow, or brown. But mostly the poles were black and white, and there was little room in that binary for “in-between” people whose objective reality and subjective identity could not be captured...

    • CHAPTER ONE “The blood of an Irishman”: THE ENGLISH CONSTRUCTION OF THE IRISH RACE, 1534–1801
      (pp. 17-29)

      In recent years scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines have noted that for the architects of empire, the process of identity formation seems to require the creation, and demonization, of a colonized Other whose vices serve to highlight the virtues of the colonizer. Apparently, no matter what our station in life, we need to imagine the Other in order to envision ourselves not only as literal, flesh-and-blood creatures but also as bearers of a set of characteristics—above all, a set of virtues—that define the collective entity we call the nation and the race. InInventing Ireland,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Celts, Hottentots, and “white chimpanzees”: THE RACIALIZATION OF THE IRISH IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
      (pp. 30-54)

      The nineteenth century created new imperatives in the relationship between England and Ireland. Once again, an Irish rebellion had been suppressed, and this time Ireland had been incorporated into the Union, with a hundred seats in the House of Commons at Westminster and thirty-two in the House of Lords. From the standpoint of British capital, the need to modernize Irish agriculture and discipline the Irish labor force became more urgent in the first half of the century. Perhaps inevitably, given the extraordinary disparity of wealth and population between the two countries, British needs dictated which crops were grown for export,...

  6. Part 2. Ireland, Slavery, and Abolition
    • CHAPTER THREE “Come out of such a land, you Irishmen”: DANIEL O’CONNELL, AMERICAN SLAVERY, AND THE MAKING OF THE IRISH RACE
      (pp. 57-85)

      Charles Lenox Remond, an African American from Salem, Massachusetts, first met Daniel O’Connell in 1840, at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London and was overwhelmed by the encounter.¹ “For thirteen years have I thought myself an abolitionist,” he reported to a friend, “but I had been in a measure mistaken, until I listened to the . . . fearless O’Connell.” Only then was Remond “moved to think, and feel, and speak” as a true abolitionist thought and felt and spoke. William Lloyd Garrison, the preeminent voice of radical abolitionism in the United States, was no less impressed. He told his...

    • CHAPTER FOUR “The Black O’Connell of the United States”: FREDERICK DOUGLASS AND IRELAND
      (pp. 86-118)

      Until his death in 1847, and for a generation thereafter, O’Connell remained a revered international symbol of the antislavery movement.¹ No matter how much Irish immigrants disappointed them, the Garrisonians could take ample consolation from their belief that the Liberator was the voice of Ireland.² Indeed, for them O’ConnellwasIreland; they created the green isle of their imaginations out of his stirring words and larger-than-life persona. Garrison hailed the Irish Address as a “noble gift of Ireland to America” that “strengthen[ed] her claim to be the ‘first flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea.’ ” John...

  7. Part 3. Ireland and Empire
    • CHAPTER FIVE “From the Cabins of Connemara to the Kraals of Kaffirland”: IRISH NATIONALISTS, THE BRITISH EMPIRE, AND THE “BOER FIGHT FOR FREEDOM”
      (pp. 121-147)

      In the second half of the nineteenth century, Irish nationalism confronted a new and radically altered world.¹ As England became the center of an increasingly large and racially diverse empire, Ireland appeared to shrink. Following the shock of the Great Famine, its population continued to decline steadily.² Nonetheless, British statesmen convinced themselves that Ireland remained the linchpin of empire, the brick that somehow kept the entire edifice in place. When Liberal prime minister William Gladstone offered concessions to the increasingly insistent Irish demand for home rule, a potent combination of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists expressed dread at the effect “surrender...

    • CHAPTER SIX “Because we are white men”: ERSKINE CHILDERS, JAN CHRISTIAN SMUTS, AND THE IRISH QUEST FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT, 1899–1922
      (pp. 148-178)

      The theme of “equal rights for all white men the world over” reemerged as a major motif of the campaign for self-determination that accompanied and followed the Great War.¹ At a moment when newly independent states were arising out of the collapse and military defeat of historic empires, some Irish nationalists were eager to place themselves and their aspirations within a “white” and European framework. Perhaps the most vivid representative of this trend is Erskine Childers, the English-born veteran of the South African War and the Great War and the principal architect and hero of the dramatic Howth gunrunning of...

  8. Part 4. Ireland and Revolution
    • CHAPTER SEVEN Negro Sinn Féiners and Black Fenians: “HEROIC IRELAND” AND THE BLACK NATIONALIST IMAGINATION
      (pp. 181-211)

      In January 1919 the newly elected representatives of Dáil Éireann (the Parliament of Ireland) issued their “Message to the Free Nations of the World,” in which they called for full recognition of the Irish Republic and warned that “the permanent peace of Europe can . . . be secured . . . only by establishing . . . government in every land upon the basis of the free will of a free people.” Meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House, they also called on the “civilised world” to serve as the guarantor of Ireland’s claim to national independence.¹ Practically speaking, these terms...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT “The Irish are for freedom everywhere”: EAMON DE VALERA, THE IRISH PATRIOTIC STRIKE, AND THE “LAST WHITE NATION . . . DEPRIVED OF ITS LIBERTY”
      (pp. 212-241)

      The Irish laid claim to their birthright of freedom at an extraordinary moment in the world’s history—one characterized by a devastating war that took the lives of nine and a half million combatants, a revolution in Russia that threatened to spread far beyond the borders of the Russian Soviet Republic, a wave of working-class insurgency that culminated in the great strike wave of 1919 and 1920, and a rising tide of nationalism that the victorious Allied powers helped to inspire but could not contain.¹ In this combustible environment, Irish nationalists not only fought with ballot and bullet but also...

    • Epilogue: The Ordeal of the Irish Republic
      (pp. 242-258)

      On December 6, 1921, after months of arduous negotiations in London, five delegates representing the Irish Republican government signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which granted Ireland dominion status but stopped far short of recognizing the “isolated Republic” that the members of Dáil Éireann and the Irish Republican Army had sworn a solemn oath to uphold. Almost immediately, the treaty divided the republican movement, and by the time it was ratified by a narrow margin in early January 1922, Ireland was drifting toward civil war.¹

      The acrimonious treaty debate, the descent into fratricidal warfare that pitted former comrades against each other, the...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 259-322)
  10. Index
    (pp. 323-333)