Whiteness and the racialization of Irish identity in Celtic Tiger children's fiction

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Ó Gallchoir, Clíona
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Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame
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This essay examines a small selection of novels for young readers published between 1993 and 2004 which deal in a variety of ways with themes of race and migration in Ireland. Padraic Whyte has drawn attention to “the manner in which children’s texts engage with complex cultural discourses in contemporary Ireland and the significant contribution that children’s novels and films can make to broader debates concerning Irish identity at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century.”[1] The novels under discussion here, John Quinn’s Duck and Swan (1993), Mark O’Sullivan’s White Lies (1997), and Patrick Devaney’s Tribal Scars (2004), appeared during a critical period in Ireland, the earliest having been published immediately prior to the economic boom of the Celtic Tiger. The term “Celtic Tiger” was coined in 1994 by the economist Kevin Gardiner, and that year marked the beginning of a period of unprecedented economic growth and social change in Ireland.[2] While the social and economic changes of the period were accompanied by a marked liberalization of attitudes and significant legal reforms such as the introduction of divorce and the decriminalization of homosexuality, it has been argued that this period also saw a new racialization of Irish identity and a conscious affirmation of the “whiteness” of that identity.[3] My discussion of these novels is therefore focused on the extent to which they engage with or reflect on this process of racialization, and the extent to which they could be said to challenge the identification between Irishness and whiteness.
Celtic Tiger , Children's fiction , Racialization in Ireland , Irish children's literature , John Quinn , Mark O’Sullivan , Patrick Devaney , Race , Migration , Irish citizenship
Ó Gallchoir, C. (2016) 'Whiteness and the Racialization of Irish Identity in Celtic Tiger Children's Fiction', Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies. Available at https://breac.nd.edu/articles/whiteness-and-the-racialization-of-irish-identity-in-celtic-tiger-childrens-fiction/
© 2016 Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame; breac