European postcolonial studies and Ireland: Towards a conversation amongst the colonized of Europe

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Laird, Heather
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In the 1980s, key Irish Studies scholars proposed that Irish culture, politics and economics – both past and present – are most usefully viewed in the context of imperialism, colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism. The result of this intervention is an Irish postcolonial studies which, over the past 35 years, has produced an influential body of scholarship premised on the idea that Ireland is a colony/former colony of the British Empire. Notwithstanding its considerable impact, Irish postcolonial studies has not been without its detractors, with the country's location within Europe forming the basis for one of most persistent objections to the application of a postcolonial framework to Ireland. Given the key role assigned to geography in the postcolonial debate in Ireland, this article explores the implications for Ireland of an emerging postcolonial critique centred on Europe. In addition to discussing the concept of internal colonisation as applied to such Western European countries as Italy and Britain, the article makes reference to postcolonial analyses of the region of Eastern and Central Europe and its relationship with both Russia and Western Europe. The article acknowledges that the branch of European postcolonial studies that focuses on uneven power relationships within and between European countries offers a useful challenge to the argument that Ireland should either be examined within a European framework or a postcolonial one, but argues that the categorisation of a greater number of European societies as colonies or former colonies raises important questions that require further debate.
Poland and Ireland , James Connolly , Joe Cleary , Field Day , European postcolonial studies , Ireland and colonialism , Irish postcolonial studies , Polish postcolonial studies
Laird, H. (2015) 'European postcolonial studies and Ireland: Towards a conversation amongst the colonized of Europe', Postcolonial Studies, 18(4), pp. 384-396. doi: 10.1080/13688790.2015.1191984
© 2016 Institute of Postcolonial Studies. Published by Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an item published by Taylor & Francis in Postcolonial Studies on 3 July 2016, available online: