Over the past decade or so, Irishness has emerged as an idealized ethnicity, one with which large numbers of people around the world, and particularly in the United States, choose to identify. Seeking to explain the widespread appeal of all things Irish, the contributors to this collection show that for Americans, Irishness is rapidly becoming the white ethnicity of choice, a means of claiming an ethnic identity while maintaining the benefits of whiteness. At the same time, the essayists challenge essentialized representations of Irishness, bringing attention to the complexities of Irish history and culture that are glossed over in Irish-themed weddings and shamrock tattoos.
Examining how Irishness is performed and commodified in the contemporary transnational environment, the contributors explore topics including Van Morrison’s music, Frank McCourt’s writing, the explosion of Irish-themed merchandising, the practices of heritage seekers, the movie The Crying Game, and the significance of red hair. Whether considering the implications of Garth Brooks’s claim of Irishness and his enormous popularity in Ireland, representations of Irish masculinity in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, or Americans’ recourse to a consoling Irishness amid the racial and nationalist tensions triggered by the events of September 11, the contributors delve into complex questions of ethnicity, consumerism, and globalization. Ultimately, they call for an increased awareness of the exclusionary effects of claims of Irishness and for the cultivation of flexible, inclusive ways of affiliating with Ireland and the Irish.
Contributors. Natasha Casey, Maeve Connolly, Catherine M. Eagan, Sean Griffin, Michael Malouf, Mary McGlynn, Gerardine Meaney, Diane Negra, Lauren Onkey, Maria Pramaggiore, Stephanie Rains, Amanda Third