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Situating Ireland: Time, Territory, and Identity in Post-Confederation Irish-Canada


Situating Ireland: Time, Territory, and Identity in Post-Confederation Irish-Canada

Jess, Raymond (2020) Situating Ireland: Time, Territory, and Identity in Post-Confederation Irish-Canada. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Between Canadian Confederation and the founding of the Irish Free State, Canada was the main model of political sovereignty through which British Liberals could imagine a practical form of political devolution for Ireland. This was also a period when Canada wished to populate the western prairies of the country by attracting immigrants from the United Kingdom, and it was hoped that by supporting Home Rule for Ireland, more Irish emigrants would choose Canada as a destination over the United States. But the failure of two Home Rule bills at Westminster would mean that Ireland would increasingly turn towards a cultural nationalist outlook, one that had a greater interest in Canada’s linguistic identity, than its political history.

This thesis will look at how Ireland was situated with regard to three primary co-ordinates of a national imaginary: history, geography, and cultural distinctiveness. I will follow the methodology of the pioneering historian Joep Leerssen whose work on pre-twentieth century Irish-English relations showed how the categories of Ireland and England were constructed as a familiarity of foreignness. While the word Irish has had a long history in English textual discourse, even before the majority of the Irish became anglophone, this thesis will look at the construction of Irishness within the Irish diaspora and the British Empire at a time when the majority of Irish people both at home and abroad had become a literate anglophone population. This thesis seeks to understand how the Irish situated themselves in an anglophone modernity, against an English language history that was never very enamored of Irish cultural distinctiveness.

For many prominent anglophone Canadians, the success of the Canadian model of political sovereignty and the opportunities afforded by settling the Northwest, should have provided the Irish with fruitful routes to transcend their history. But for many francophone Canadians, Ireland was a warning about the dangers of cultural loss, as they battled against the anglicizing influence of the Irish North American Catholic Church. By situating Ireland as a mirror of Canadian politics and culture, both the Irish and the Canadians could better interpret their past and envision their future.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Jess, Raymond
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:28 August 2020
Thesis Supervisor(s):Ó hAllmhuráin, Gearóid and O’Leary, Daniel and McGaughey, Jane
ID Code:987885
Deposited By: RAYMOND JESS
Deposited On:29 Jun 2021 21:08
Last Modified:29 Jun 2021 21:08
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