Famine Irish and the American Racial State

1st Edition

Peter D. O'Neill

Routledge
Published February 6, 2017
Reference - 280 Pages - 19 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781138228139 - CAT# Y308470
Series: Routledge Advances in American History

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Summary

Accounts of Irish racialization in the United States have tended to stress Irish difference. Famine Irish and the American Racial State takes a different stance. This interdisciplinary, transnational work uses an array of cultural artifacts, including novels, plays, songs, cartoons, government reports, laws, sermons, memoirs, and how-to manuals, to make its case. It challenges the claim that the Irish "became white" in the United States, showing that the claim fails to take into full account the legal position of the Irish in the nineteenth-century US state – a state that deemed the Irish "white" upon arrival. The Irish thus not only fitted into the US racial state; they helped to form it. Till now, little heed has been paid to the state’s role in the Americanization of the Irish or to the Irish role in the development of US state institutions. Distinguishing American citizenship from American nationality, this volume journeys to California to analyze the means by which the Irish gained acceptance in both categories, at the expense of the Chinese. Along the way, it contests ideas that have taken hold within American studies. One is the notion that the Roman Catholic Church operated outside of the power structure of the nineteenth-century United States. On the contrary, Famine Irish and the American Racial State argues, the Irish-led corporate Catholic Church became deeply imbricated in US state structures. Its final chapter discusses a radical, transnational, Irish tradition that offers a glimpse at a postnational future.

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