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Irish travellers : on writing orality, representation and belonging


Irish travellers : on writing orality, representation and belonging

Walsh, Christine (2007) Irish travellers : on writing orality, representation and belonging. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Travellers, a traditionally nomadic people indigenous to Ireland, have suffered marginalization and discrimination within modern Ireland. This thesis, informed by Michel Foucault's musings on struggles for power within the modern nation, explores the history of colonialism as an unresolved trauma that contributes to the persecution of Travellers in Ireland. Due to their traditional oral culture as well as systemic racism that excluded them from educational institutions, many Traveller autobiographies (most published in the last twenty years) have been "spoken" works such as Traveller activist Nan Joyce's My Life on the Road , one of two longer autobiographies focused on in this thesis. Joyce's direct style approaches language as primarily a social interaction, characteristic of orality, as she responds to negative representations of Travellers within the dominant culture. Even though Sean Maher's more literary 1972 memoir, The Road to God Knows Where , reflects his formal education, his focus remains on storytelling as he writes to preserve Traveller traditions that he sees as imperilled. Both writers present worldviews that challenge not only the more literary expectations of the presumed non-Traveller reader, but also the academic 'othering' that delegitimizes knowledge derived from orality, and ultimately the rational materialism that validates the homogenizing and normalizing impulses that regulate the modern nation. By re-presenting official versions of history in narratives that include Travellers as active participants, Joyce and Maher reveal the role of storytelling in creating national belonging even as they write to construct legitimate places of belonging for Travellers within the nation.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Walsh, Christine
Pagination:v, 170 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Kenneally, Michael
Identification Number:LE 3 C66E54M 2007 W35
ID Code:975338
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:06
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 20:07
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