Whose side were they on? An examination of the stereotyping of Irish identity in the nineteenth century through an analysis of three significant events

Hughes, Mary P. (2011) Whose side were they on? An examination of the stereotyping of Irish identity in the nineteenth century through an analysis of three significant events. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    In the U.S. today, the Irish represent one of the largest ethnic groups. They are characterised in popular images as being fun loving, good humoured and congenial. In the 1840s, 50s and 60s however, the majority of immigrants arriving in America from Ireland were depicted in negative and often vicious terms. This dissertation proposes to examine the implication of this stereotype and its impact on Irish participation in three key historical events in the U.S., focusing on the American incursion into Mexico, the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland, and the New York draft riots of 1863. It will examine these events in an attempt to determine how far the Irish, through their social political and religious affiliations, endorsed these degrading images and to what extent they repudiated them.

    Tracing the roots of the religious and racial stereotype in both Ireland and Great Britain, the study will attempt to explain some of the persistent views which sought to dehumanise and marginalise the Irish. Each of the events will then be explored in an analysis of the way in which the Irish sought to establish an identity for themselves that contested the view of them as ‘other’, whilst endeavouring to survive and prosper in a new land. The study will explore the Irish example through the prism of the United States, a country where they eventually establish themselves as mainstream and white. Consideration will be given as to whether the Irish aligned themselves with forces and ideologies that best suited their own need or those that sought to improve the lives of other peoples. In examining the inter-racial enmity that existed between the Irish and the African-Americans, it will attempt to assess to what extent the Irish were themselves motivated by racial prejudice rather than economic necessity. The conclusion will then seek to determine to what extent the stereotyping of the Irish influenced their participation in each separate event.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2011 09:21
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:41
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/4328

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