Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’

Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’

2.8.2013

The exhibition Labour and Lockout opens in Limerick City Gallery of Art  on 8 August and runs until 1 October exploring contemporary and historical scenarios where conditions of labour impact on lives lived today. Artists include Deirdre O’Mahony, Anthony Haughey, Deirdre Power, Darek Fortas, Jesse Jones, Sean Lynch, Seamus Farrell, Megs Morley & Tom Flanagan and Mark Curran.

Future State is collaborating with Goldsmiths, University of London and Limerick City Gallery of Art to host Land Labour Capital, a three day event of film screenings, artist talks, seminars and workshops related to the exhibition theme, taking place 26-28 September. Keynote speakers will include:

Mark Curran, educator and artist participating in the exhibition.  He completed a practice-led PhD at the Dublin Institute of Technology (2011), lectures on the BA (Hons) Photography programme, Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire and is Visiting Professor on the MA in Visual and Media Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. Incorporating multi-media installation informed by ethnographic understandings, Curran has undertaken a cycle of long-term research projects over the past 15 years, critically addressing the predatory context resulting from the migrations and flows of global capital. Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and partnered by Gallery of Photography, Belfast Exposed, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Limerick City Gallery of Art and curated by Helen Carey, Curran is undertaking a project to be part of the marking of the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Continuing the cycle to date, this multi-sited transnational project titles THE MARKET, focuses on the functioning of the global markets. It explores the nexus of the stockmarket, the lives of those working on the trading floors and in the financial sector and the lives of ordinary people not directly related to the sector.  Curran has sought access to the trading floors of stock exchanges in Dublin, Addis Abbaba, Frankfurt, London and has maintained an informative blog to capture his research.  THE MARKET will be presented in Dublin, Belfast and Limerick in August 2013 with publication to follow in 2014

Dr Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh. She has widely published in journals and has contributed numerous chapters to edited collections, including ‘The Spectacle and Its Others: Labour, Conflict and Art in the Age of Global Capital’ in Jonathan Harris, ed, Globalization and Contemporary Art, Wiley-Blackwell 2011 and ‘The Art Biennial as Symptom’ in Pilar Parcericas and Joacquin Barriendos, eds, Global Circuits: The Geography of Art and the New Configurations of Critical Thought, Acca 2011. Her books include Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique (MUP 2013) and, in her native Greek, Art and Globalization: From the Postmodern Sign to the Biopolitical Arena (2013). With Lara Perry she co-edited Politics in a Glass Case:Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions (LUP 2013). In 2013 she co-curated, with Kirsten Lloyd, ECONOMY. An edited collection titled Economy: Art and the Subject after Postmodernism expanding on the outcomes of the curatorial research is forthcoming from Liverpool University Press in 2014. Angela is Corresponding Editor of HM: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and a Researcher with the Art, Globalization, Interculturality group at the University of Barcelona (http://artglobalizationinterculturality.com).

Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His work is in the field of visual culture, particularly on the genealogy of visuality, a key term in the field. His book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality was published by Duke University Press (2011). He has produced and edited many texts and projects that support the general development of visual culture as a field of study and a methodology, such as the third Visual Culture Reader, edited by Mirzoeff and published in 2012 by Routledge and the second fully revised edition of An Introduction to Visual Culture, published in 2009 by Routledge. He also works on militant research with the global social movements that have arisen since 2011, particularly the Occupy movement, writing a regular column ‘Intensify’  for Tidal Magazine.

Deirdre O’Mahony is an artist, academic and occasional writer. She received PhD from the University of Brighton titled New Ecologies between Rural Life and Visual Culture in the West of Ireland: History, Context, Position, and Art Practice. Current projects include a collaborative project SPUD, between farmers, artists and art agencies taking place in Ireland, the UK and the USA and this year she has produced a collaborative event, River Culture in County Tipperary in June 2013.  She is curating an installation on rural labour and the regulation of turf cutting as part of the. O’Mahony is a member of the association of Arte Útil practitioners, a project by Tanya Bruguera, and part of the Arte Útil archive. Solo exhibitions include Abandoned Clare 2013, re-presentations, BCA Gallery 2009, Viscqueux Galway Arts Festival, 2006, Wall, Context Gallery Derry and LCGA, 2002 and WRAP; Galway Arts Centre in 2000. Public art projects include T.U.R.F (Transitional Understandings Of Rural Futures), ongoing, Mind Meitheal ongoing, Abridged: 0 – 20 Abandoned Clare, 2011, funded by the Arts Council, X-PO 2007-8 funded by the Arts Council and Cross Land, 2007 commissioned by Clare Co. Council. O’Mahony has received numerous awards, both national and international including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship in 1995 and visual arts bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíonn, 1997/2001 and 2010.

For more details and updates as they become available check http://www.thefuturestate.org.uk.

Advertisements

LandLabourCapital

Land │Labour │Capital at Limerick City Gallery of Art on 26-28 September 2013

21.6.2013

We are delighted to announce Land │Labour │Capital, an exciting collaboration between Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA), Goldsmiths, University of London and The Future State.  Over three days in September Land │Labour │Capital will bring together leading cultural academics and practitioners to reflect on the relevance of the 1913 Dublin Lockout for the contemporary moment and to foreground radical and alternative narratives for future history-making. Keynotes will be confirmed shortly. Land │Labour │Capital will take place in the LCGA during Labour + Lockout, an exhibition marking the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout: a key moment in Ireland’s industrial history when employers refused to recognize workers in an attempt to break worker solidarity and the trade union movement.

LCGA’s Labour + Lockout exhibition is one in a series of exhibitions examining this moment of commemoration taking place in CCA Derry Londonderry, Belfast Exposed, Temple Bar Studios and Gallery Dublin, Gallery of Photography Dublin and independent spaces in Dublin.

We welcome proposals for academic or practice-led presentations exploring cultural, particularly visual, representations that critique dominant narratives and/or propose alternative futures. For more information refer to the Call for Papers (CFP).

More details to follow soon…

 

 

Magdalene Laundries or Labour Camps?

Magdalene Laundries or Labour Camps? Ireland’s ‘Rule of Silence’

7.6.2013 

Image by visual artist Owen Boss courtesy of Anu Productions

In this episode of The Future State of Ireland podcast series, Miriam Haughton, a graduate researcher in the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD, offers a performance analysis of Laundry (winner of ‘Best Production’, Irish Times Theatre Awards 2012), detailing how the founding principles of national freedom – the Roman Catholic faith and independent governance – ensured only certain individuals and groups were free, while others were hidden, silenced, punished and incarcerated for life. Control of the female body existed at the heart of these national power interests, as did careful management of the family unit proper. Visibility, invisibility, free speech, individual agency and access to political power were all tightly managed privileges in this culture of national, religious and sexual control and overt gender discrimination.

If you wish to discuss this further with Miriam Haughton you can reach her on miriamhaughton[at]hotmail.com.

Dreams of Freedom? Stephanie Feeney

Dreams of Freedom? Conversations on Aesthetics, Ethics & European Democracies

Stephanie Feeney (podcast recorded Saturday 9th March)

01.06.2013

The United States of Europe exhibition has been touring Europe since 2011, debating European citizenship and exploring the ties people have to it. In March of this year the exhibition took up temporary residence at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, where a two day event entitled ‘Dreams of Freedom? Conversations on Aesthetics, Ethics & European Democracies’ organised by the National Sculpture Factory accompanied the exhibition. As part of a panel on ‘Propositions for a Future State’ researcher Stephanie Feeney introduces the collaborative research work of The Future State’. In this podcast, recorded at the event, Stephanie explores the visual narrative of the contemporary European resistance movement that is emerging in response to economic and social crises.  She contrasts this against the visual narrative of resistance in response to specific and localised Irish crises and suggests that a narrative trap sustains a false assertion of quiescence in Irish society.  Shes goes on to introduce the work and plans for The Future State.

A gallery of images to accompany the podcast can be found here.

Dreams of Freedom? Anthony Haughey

Dreams of Freedom? Conversations on Aesthetics, Ethics & European Democracies

Anthony Haughey (podcast recorded Saturday 9th March)

25.04.2013

The United States of Europe exhibition has been touring Europe since 2011, debating European citizenship and exploring the ties people have to it. In March of this year the exhibition took up temporary residence at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, where a two day event entitled ‘Dreams of Freedom? Conversations on Aesthetics, Ethics & European Democracies’ organised by the  National Sculpture Factory accompanied the exhibition. As part of a panel on ‘Propositions for a Future State’ artist Anthony Haughey spoke of Contesting Citizenship: Collaboration and Dialogue’. In this podcast, recorded at the event, Anthony explores the precarious position of migrants and the process of negotiating citizenship with reluctant hosts. He asks how, when migrants are stuck between states, can they exert resistance, and be seen beyond accusations of victimhood and passivity. The works discussed in the podcast can be viewed at anthonyhaughey.com.

Memory and migration: Towards a hybrid space

Memory and Migration: Towards a Hybrid Space

19.5.2013

In his book Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization Michael Rothberg writes that,

…pursuing memory’s multidirectionality encourages us to think of the public sphere as a malleable discursive space in which groups do not simply articulate established positions but actually come into being through their dialogical interactions with others; both the subjects and spaces of the public are open to continual reconstruction. [1] 

He continues that the borders of memory and identity are ‘jagged’ and that memories are not owned by a certain group. The anachronistic quality of memory, he asserts, is what gives memory its ‘powerful creativity, its ability to build new worlds out of the materials of older ones’. [2]

The discussion of migration in this series owes much to Rothberg’s concept of multidirectional memory and its, ‘potential to create new forms of solidarity and new visions of justice.’ [3] Having spent the two previous pieces discussing the problems of hegemonic single narratives in the context of migration, I want now to explore the alternative spaces of myriad voices, as articulated by cultural theorists and created by artists.

In an interview with Jonathon Rutherford in the book Identity: Community, Culture, Difference Homi K. Bhabha articulated a ‘third space’, a space of hybridity. He explains that it is not a position of identity itself but an identification, a process of identifying with and through another object, an object of otherness. Like Rothberg’s multidirectional space Bhabha see the hybrid space as a site of potential: ‘The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognisable, a new area of meaning and representation.’[4]

The cultural theorist Ien Ang also notes the creative potential of this ‘third space’. In the forward to her book On Not Speaking Chinese Ang suggests that the, ‘diasporic intellectual may in fact be especially well placed to analyse this complicated entanglement [of the hybrid space] because it is embodied in her own life trajectory’. [5] She asserts that:

[A] critical diasporic cultural politics should privilege neither host country nor (real or imaginary) homeland, but precisely keep a creative tension between ‘where you’re from’ and ‘where you’re at’… the productivity I am referring to fills that space up with new forms of culture at the collision of the two: hybrid cultural forms born out of a productive, creative syncretism. [6]

I would argue that this is exemplified by the work of Arambe Productions, an African theatre company based in Dublin who create opportunities for often excluded African actors by, ‘ producing classic and contemporary plays in the African tradition, [and] reinterpreting relevant plays in the Irish canon’. [7]

In 2006 Arambe staged The Kings of the Kilburn High Road during the Dublin Fringe Festival. The play, written by Jimmy Murphy in 2005, is set in London twenty-five years after a group of Irish men sailed to England in hope of making a fortune and returning home. They meet up to drink to the memory of a dead friend and look back at their ‘lives, lost dreams and their place in the new Ireland’. [8]

Poster for The Kings of the Kilburn High Road, 2006, Arambe Productions.

In an essay entitled Who’s Laughing Now? Comic Currents for a New Irish Audience Eric Weitz notes how the humour in the production demarcates in-groups and out-groups of belonging in the audience, at once demonstrating cultural differences and creating a space of positive potential. [9] On the subject of articulating the traditional migration narratives of Kings through the African voice he writes:

Remarkably there are passages of text from Kings which played like an up-to-the-minute cautionary tale for African-born spectators who have emigrated to Ireland for economic betterment… Speaking through the mouth of Irish characters, there were many poignant opportunities for the Arambe actors – all but one of whom were born in Nigeria and spoke in their own accents – to give voice to yearnings and disappointments concerning the concept of ‘home’. The spectacle of five young black men caught in similar circumstances and enacting the potentially destructive social rites of their adopted country implies a hard glance in the rearview mirror at a wave of Irish emigration, even as it looks forward to our African-born immigrants. The oscillation between them evoked lament and warning simultaneously, though surely in different measure for the two main groups of spectators. [10]

At this juncture it should be clearly stated that I do not believe that expressing the cultural experience of one group through the voice of another automatically creates a site of multidirectionality or hybridity. Indeed I believe it can often be used to present an acceptable face of competitive memory or as an exercise in multicultural containment.  However as Weitz notes, it is the view of contemporary African migration to Ireland, through the renegotiated memory of Irish migration that opens up a space of solidarity in this case. [11]

In so doing the Arambe production created within the audience a site of collected memory. James Young suggests collected memory, as an alternative to Maurice Halbwach’s problematic concept of collective memory, proposing a space where,

… we recognize that we never really shared each others actual memory of past or recent events, but that in sharing common spaces in which we collect our disparate and competing memories, we find common (perhaps even a national) understanding of widely disparate experiences and our very reasons for recalling them. [12]

Like Bhabha and Rothberg, Young is proposing space, physical and theoretical, that brings memory together in recognition of inescapable differences.

The video installation How Capital Moves by Kennedy Browne also opens up a site of collected memory by creating space within the work to understand the trauma that globalisation exerts on local communities through the disparate and overtly competitive experiences of communities affected by the migration of transnationals. The work features six avatars, played by the same actor, each delivering a monologue addressing a particular experience and attitude to The Company, a large multinational computer firm which relocated from Limerick to Lodz in 2009. [13]

Image still ‘believed_in_company’ from How Capital Moves (2011) Kennedy Browne

The script is ‘an accumulation of translations and transcriptions’; from the language of the online accounts, into the written UK English of the script and then into the spoken Polish’. [14] This process of translation is extremely important; as Bhabha says, ‘the act of cultural translation (both as representation and as reproduction) denies the essentialism of a prior given original or originary culture then we see that all forms of culture are continually in a process of hybridity’. [15]

Denying this essentialism is vital. The real event on which How Capital Moves is based is in its very nature a site of competition. It is the nature of multinational companies to site themselves in the most competitive context, creating a climate of competition where countries lobby for business, often by undercutting their own citizens. Press reports at the time, exemplified by the Irish Independent’s headline Poland celebrates: ‘good for Lodz, bad for Ireland’ [16] gloss over the company’s role in the job losses in favour of drawing comparisons between Ireland and Poland, sites of capital migration, in a contest of economic hardship and unemployment woe.

Rothberg writes that ‘Comparison, like memory, should be thought of as productive – as producing new objects and new lines of sight – and not simply as reproducing already given entities that either are or are not “like” other already given entities’. [17] In contrast to the narrative presented by mainstream media outlets the work by Kennedy Browne presents the memory of the event through the medium of the Polish actor’s monologue, thereby ensuring the remediation of the memory to include and be read through the Polish perspective. [18] In so doing they transfer the critical focus onto The Company and their complicity and draw a ‘new line of sight’ through the integration of the Polish voice. [19]

It is in this use of voice and readymade, in the form of anonymous online testimonies, that multidirectionality is anchored. In the foreword to the script that accompanies How Capital Moves they state:

These fictions tend to be developed from existing, marginalised materials from within the plots and subplots of global capitalism. The use of readymade, found material in combination with a collaborative method of scripting ensures that Kennedy Browne’s fictions are networked to a multitude of referents rather than tied to a singular author. [20]

By presenting a ‘multitude of referents’ and weaving them together through the process of fictionalisation Kennedy Browne build on the strength of these combined stories and what they reveal about each other, to direct a critical refocusing on the effects of global capital migration. This, says Bhabha, is the power of the third space, to displace, ‘the histories that constitute it, and sets up new structures of authority, new political initiatives, which are inadequately understood through received wisdom’. [21]

The third or hybrid space, multidirectional or collected memory, all foreground the conflict that is inevitable in the collision of cultures that is commonplace in our contemporary world. As citizens we need to advocate for these spaces and their potential for building new visions for our future states. They reject the negation that is inherent in multicultural containment and in doing so make room for the creative tension in those spaces of complex, antagonistic entanglement. Here we can redraw critical focus onto the hegemonic voices of power which have privileged single narratives in the name of cohesion but instead breed xenophobia and fail to make room for migrant memory.

Written by Ruth Annett

[1] Rothberg, M. (2009) Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization Stanford: Stanford University Press, p.5

[2] ibid

[3] ibid: 4-5

[4] Bhabha, H (1990) The Third Space: Interview with Homi Bhabha in Rutherford, J. [ed.] (1990) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference London: Lawrence & Wishart, p.211

[5] Ang, I (2001) On Not Speaking Chinese: Living between Asia and the West London: Routledge, p.3

[6] ibid: 35

[7] Arambe Productions, 2013, Accessed:18/3/2013 Available at Arambe Productions online.

[8] Playography Ireland, 2013, Accessed: 22/4/13 Available at <http://www.irishplayography.com/play.aspx?playid=284>

[9] Weitz, E. (2009) Who’s Laughing Now? Comic Currents for a New Irish Audience in Brady, S. And Walsh, F (2009) Crossroads: Performance Studies and Irish Culture, London: Palgrave MacMillan, p.226

[10] ibid: 228

[11] ibid; Rothberg, 2009:4-5

[12] Young, J.E. (2010) Memory and Monuments after 9/11 in Crownshaw, Kilby and Rowland (2010) The Future of Memory Oxford: Berghahn Books p.81

[13]  Kennedy Browne (2011) How Capital Moves – The Script [online] Accessed: 18th April 2013Available at<http://www.kennedybrowne.com/> p.7

[14] ibid

[15] Bhabha in Rutherford, 1990:211

[16] Byrne, C. (2009) Poland celebrates: ‘good for Lodz, bad for Ireland’ The Irish Independent 9th January [online] Accessed: 18/4/2013 URL:http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/poland-celebrates-good-for-lodz-bad-for-ireland-26504420.html

[17] Rothberg, 2009:19

[18] Erll, A. (2011) Travelling Memory, Parallax, 17 (4), p.12

[19] Rothberg, 2009:19

[20] Kennedy Browne, 2011:35

[21] Bhabha in Rutherford, 1990:211

Memory and Migration: Imaginary Homelands

Memory and Migration: Imaginary Homelands

12.5.2013

When thinking about diaspora I return again and again to the writing of Salman Rushdie:

It may be that writers in my position, exiles or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutated into pillars of salt. But if we do look back, we must also do so in the knowledge-which gives rise to profound uncertainties- that our physical alienation from India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost; that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, lndias of the mind. [1]

In the context of contemporary Ireland looking back has become a demand of the migrant individual and the inter-generational Irish diaspora throughout the world. The language of imaginary homelands, Irelands of the mind, saturate public discourse on the transcultural flow of people, leaving little room for other narratives, as I discussed last week. However an image of Ireland is increasingly being sold that does not reflect the country it is but rather portrays an imagined homeland demanded by a global market.

On the website of UCC’s EMIGRE project a fascinating array of media representations of diaspora and homeland have been gathered. The most recent addition, the animation Origin from 2012, portrays the journey of a man trying to leave the country who gets drawn back by connecting with a mythic past.

The emotive imagery of this piece exemplifies the problematic understanding of emigration and diaspora, assuming that all who leave are driven away by the problems of modern life and can only be drawn back by the imagined purity of a romantic past.

This type of narrative has also been consistently seen in the promotion of The Gathering which purports to ‘provide the perfect excuse to reach out to those who have moved away, their relatives, friends and descendants, and invite them home’, assuming and indeed demanding a look back from those who have left. [2] The question of whether or not this is a commoditization of culture, a cynical peddling of Irishness to reap economic benefits, has been exhaustively debated so far this year. Nonetheless I would like to revisit it within the context of this discussion on memory and migration.

On the webpage What it means to be Irish on thegatheringireland.com we are told that:

From a rock in the middle of the ocean, we have populated the globe with approximately 70 million O’Sullivans, Murphys and Walshes, not to mention the roughly one million Irish-born people who are currently living abroad.

On the page Global Community this theme is continued:

The point we’re trying to make is that you’ll find people with Irish blood scattered right across the globe, and that many of them made a huge contribution to society in their new homes.

It is hard not to view the latter statement cynically, given the obvious source of much needed revenue that such an initiative provides, and the obligation of diaspora that is implied.  Indeed as we cast the critical eye of hindsight on the recent history of globalisation in its economic guises, it is worrying that such an initiative has become a national calling card. Given how the unquestioning embrace of global capitalism has damaged the collective Irish self, continuing to cater to it seems an odd choice.

In the foreword to the book The Irish in Us, published in 2006 Diane Negra notes that;

Over the last ten years a particular set of cultural and economic pressures has rapidly transnationalized Irishness. Recruited for global capitalism, Irishness has become a form of discursive currency, motivating and authenticating a variety of heritage narratives and commercial transactions, often through its status as a form of “enriched whiteness”. 

There is obviously demand for Irishness as a product. In the essay Still “Black” and “Proud”; Irish America and the Racial Politics of Hibernophilia  from the same book, Catherine Eagan explains that much of this appetite comes from America where pervasive hibernophilia not only manifests through consumption of identity symbols but more insidiously through an assertion of alterity and the (re)appropriation of suffering. [4] This I would argue is a condition of postmemory, a term devised by Marianne Hirsch who explains:

[It] is a powerful form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection but through projection, investment and creation… [it] characterizes the experience of those who grow up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth , whose own belated stories are displaced by the stories of the previous generation, shaped by traumatic events that they can neither understand nor re-create. [5]

In the case of Irish America these narratives are derived from a collective ancestry of famine émigrés and the well-documented historic oppression of Irish immigrants in the United States. Generations of Irish Americans have acted as carriers of this memory which has been fed and mediated by the memory of late-twentieth and twenty-first century economic migration. The contemporary experience of Irish Americans has, however, no parallel with the oppression of earlier Irish immigrants, leading to the conflation of Irish and African American oppression, interest in the Northern Irish conflict, and solidarity against racial oppression against contemporary African diaspora. [6]

While aspects of this solidarity have positive out-workings there is an edge to this identification of ‘ethnic’ Irishness.  While there is potential to understand discrimination against the Irish through the subjugation of the black community and vice versa, in line with a multidirectional reading as proposed by Michael Rothberg, what has taken place so far has been distinctly competitive. [7] Writing of the push to educate the American public with an awareness of famine history in 1997, Eagan notes that ‘[d]espite the scholars best efforts, the attendees of these events were at times overeager in their excoriation of the English and their willingness to engage in competitive suffering matches with Jews, Native Americans, African Americans, and other oppressed peoples.’  [8]

It follows that the identification with suffering that has become an inherent part of ethnic Irishness should not lay emphasis on the collective histories of migrant suffering as this fails to recognise the differences in cultural experience. It also ignores the conflict that arises between migrant communities, in favour of a harmonious narrative of collective suffering. The equation of Irish and black oppression in American pop culture products, exemplified by the film Gangs of New York (Scorsese, 2002), eradicates conflict in favour of a narrative of cohesion, in this case by failing to acknowledge the lynching of African Americans carried out but Irish Americans angry about the inequality of the Civil War draft. [9]

This act of negation demonstrates how highly mediated Irishness travels between the diaspora and home nation in a cycle of re-appropriation, or as Hirsch puts it, ‘projection, investment and creation’, reinforcing problematic stereotypes. In the words of Chimamanda Adichie, quoted last week and who warrants reiteration, ‘the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete’. [10]

Though the commoditization of Irishness has been widely debated in the year of The Gathering what is equally difficult to stomach, but less often discussed, is the incompleteness of the commodity it seeks to sell.  Though its cheery colloquial tone does not venture anywhere near the darker side of this collective identity, by quietly implying an ethnic Irishness it is nonetheless implicated. By emphasising the ties of diaspora to their homeland, whether for economic gain or not, these problematic understandings are underlined. For those in Ireland’s racially diverse population who identify themselves as Irish, this is especially unhelpful as these narratives, as they are broadcast to the diaspora, only serve to restate their alterity. As such by catering to this global demand for Irishness through this commoditized view of imaginary homelands and ‘politically insulated ethnic whiteness’ a stereotype is peddled that leaves little room for the many who don’t fit the profile, and little opportunity for a contemporary re-negotiation of Irishness.

Written by Ruth Annett
 

[1] Rusdie, S. (1992) Imaginary Homelands London: Granta Books p. 10
[2] The Gathering, 2013 Available at < http://www.thegatheringireland.com/About.aspx#.UUbyUxfQaSo&gt;
[3] Negra, D. (2006) The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity, and Popular Culture in Negra, D.(ed.) (2006) The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity, and Popular Culture, London: Duke University Press, p.1
[4]Eagan, C. (2006) Still “Black” and “Proud”: Irish America and the Racial Politics of Hibernophilia in Negra, D.(ed.) (2006) The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity, and Popular Culture, London: Duke University Press, p.23
[5]Hirsch, M. (1999) Projected Memory: Holocaust Photographs in Personal and Public Fantasy in Bal, M et al [eds.](1999) Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present Hanover: University Press of New England, p.8
[6] Eagan, 2006:28-29
[7] Rothberg, M. (2009) Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization, Stanford: Stanford University Press p.3
[8] Eagan, 2006:41
[9]ibid: 32
[10] Adichie, C (2009) The danger of a single story [online video] Available at <http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html&gt;