Monday, March 17, 2014
After all the green beer has been poured and the ubiquitous shamrocks fade away, what does it mean to be Irish American besides St. Patrick’s Day? Who’s Your Paddy traces the evolution of “Irish” as a race-based identity in the U.S. from the 19th century to the present day. Exploring how the Irish have been and continue to be socialized around race, Jennifer Nugent Duffy argues that Irish identity must be understood within the context of generational tensions between different waves of Irish immigrants as well as the Irish community’s interaction with other racial minorities. Using historic and ethnographic research, Duffy sifts through the many racial, class, and gendered dimensions of Irish-American identity by examining three distinct Irish cohorts in Greater New York: assimilated descendants of nineteenth-century immigrants; “white flighters” who immigrated to postwar America and fled places like the Bronx for white suburbs like Yonkers in the 1960s and 1970s; and the newer, largely undocumented migrants who began to arrive in the 1990s. What results is a portrait of Irishness as a dynamic, complex force in the history of American racial consciousness, pertinent not only to contemporary immigration debates but also to the larger questions of what it means to belong, what it means to be American.
The Great Irish Famine is the most pivotal event in modern Irish history, with implications that cannot be underestimated. Over a million people perished between 1845-1852, and well over a million others fled to other locales within Europe and America. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The 2000 US census had 41 million people claim Irish ancestry, or one in five white Americans. Atlas of the Great Irish Famine (1845-52) considers how such a near total decimation of a country by natural causes could take place in industrialized, 19th century Europe and situates the Great Famine alongside other world famines for a more globally informed approach. The Atlas seeks to try and bear witness to the thousands and thousands of people who died and are buried in mass Famine pits or in fields and ditches, with little or nothing to remind us of their going. The centrality of the Famine workhouse as a place of destitution is also examined in depth. Likewise the atlas represents and documents the conditions and experiences of the many thousands who emigrated from Ireland in those desperate years, with case studies of famine emigrants in cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, New York and Toronto. The Atlas places the devastating Irish Famine in greater historic context than has been attempted before, by including over 150 original maps of population decline, analysis and examples of poetry, contemporary art, written and oral accounts, numerous illustrations, and photography, all of which help to paint a fuller picture of the event and to trace its impact and legacy. In this comprehensive and stunningly illustrated volume, over fifty chapters on history, politics, geography, art, population, and folklore provide readers with a broad range of perspectives and insights into this event.