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Irish Diasporic Writing in Argentina, 1845-1907: A Reconsideration of Emigrant Identity

Wall, S; (2013) Irish Diasporic Writing in Argentina, 1845-1907: A Reconsideration of Emigrant Identity. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Departure from Ireland has long occupied a contradictory position in Irish national discourse, alternatively viewed as exile or betrayal. This thesis analyses how this departure as well as notions of home, identity and return are articulated in the narratives of three members of the Irish diaspora community in Argentina: John Brabazon’s journal The Customs and Habits of the Country of Buenos Ayres from the year 1845 by John Brabazon and His Own Adventures; Kathleen Nevin’s fictional memoir, You’ll Never Go Back (1946); and William Bulfin’s series of sketches for The Southern Cross newspaper, later published as Tales of the Pampas (1900) and Rambles in Eirinn (1907). I examine the extent to which each writer upholds or contests hegemonic constructions of Irishness and how their experience in the diaspora space, that is, what Avtar Brah defines as ‘the intersectionality of diaspora, border and dis/location as a point of confluence of economic, political, cultural and psychic processes’ as well as theirencounters with other inhabitants of that space influence identity construction. Drawingon Brah’s notion of home as both a ‘mythic place of desire’ and ‘lived experience of alocality’, I explore how these writers imaginatively construct Irishness and negotiate the dual identity of emigrant and potential returnee. I contend that each of these writers, to varying degrees, challenges the orthodox positionings of the Irish diaspora subject as backward-looking and the Irish emigrant as bound to the national territory, paradigms which are an important feature of anti-colonial nationalism in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Furthermore, I argue that they construct multiple subject positions in addition to contradictory notions of Irishness: national (implying fixed in place), essentialist and homogenous versus transnational, defined interms of diversity and multiplicity – ultimately contributing to the re-imagining of the Irish emigrant identity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Irish Diasporic Writing in Argentina, 1845-1907: A Reconsideration of Emigrant Identity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1416829
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