Transatlantic Dialogues: Irish Memories of American Slavery, 1840-1916
Elzen, S.S.M. van den
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The thesis examines the ways in which Irish nationalist movements related themselves to the abolitionist movement in the US and invoked the history of African-Americans as a model in representing the struggle for Irish independence in the period from 1840 (when abolition was hotly debated in the US and O’Connell’s movement for home rule in Ireland coincided) to the Rising of 1916, the foundational event of Irish independence. Its main foci are Irish journalistic representations of the abolition movement and events like Frederick Douglass’ visit to Ireland in 1841, and the reception and adaptations of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Ireland. The argument shows that abolitionism became a stake in debates between different nationalist movements in Ireland, and the articulation of their relationship to abolition became instrumental to their definition of Irish identity (e.g. along race or religious lines). The thesis seeks to contribute to the theoretical understanding of the dynamics of transnational memory, and utilizes Michael Rothberg’s concept of multidirectionality to frame its analysis of Irish/African-American relations.