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‘Mahomedan Fenians’: Anti-Imperialism, the Islamic World, and Irish Republican Thought, c.1848-1885

Lally, J; (2022) ‘Mahomedan Fenians’: Anti-Imperialism, the Islamic World, and Irish Republican Thought, c.1848-1885. The English Historical Review , Article ceac021. 10.1093/ehr/ceac021. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

If Irish republicanism (or Fenianism) after 1848 was sometimes articulated through the critique of British imperialism in Afro-Asia, by the 1870s the Fenian command and journalists writing for the Irish-American republican press were taking a marked interest in Muslim societies under British rule. This interest developed steadily from the Indian Rebellion of 1857–8 to the Great Eastern Crisis of 1875–8, analysis of the latter illuminating the additional potential possessed by those frontiers where imperial rivalries could be manipulated to exhaust and abrade British power and prestige. Afghanistan—a buffer between British India and Russian Central Asia—held great promise, and the eruption of the Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80) presented an opportunity for the Irish cause: support for Afghans might precipitate the disintegration of British coercive power, providing in turn the opportunity for Ireland’s emancipation. Focusing on the writings of the Fenian command and reportage in the US-based Irish World, this article shows the attentiveness of Irish patriots to the spectral power of the world of Islam, which haunted the European powers, and their subversion of the Orientalist categories constructed to demonise Muslims, particularly those from the frontier most resistant to European imperialism. Fantastical and opportunistic, this short-lived burst of interest was the culmination of a longer-term process, one revealing the embeddedness of Fenianism within a world-historical moment marked by numerous imaginative projects constitutive of Islam as a world religion and a (latent) world power, and, thus, the imperial, trans-imperial and global geographies of Fenian thought.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Mahomedan Fenians’: Anti-Imperialism, the Islamic World, and Irish Republican Thought, c.1848-1885
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ehr/ceac021
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ceac021
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106289
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