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Chapter 15 - Race, Place, and the Grounds of Irish Geopolitics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2024

Malcolm Sen
Affiliation:
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Julie McCormick Weng
Affiliation:
Texas State University
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Summary

Recent discussions in Irish geopolitics have often been coded in spatial language, particularly in the recurring motif of soil. For instance, Ireland was the last country in Europe to grant citizenship on the basis of jus soli (“right of soil”) until the 2004 referendum made citizenship determined by the nationality of one’s parents (jus sanguinis or “right of blood”). Or to take a more recent example: one of the great dangers posed by Brexit is the possibility of creating a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This essay traces how the motif of soil has been central to conceptions of Irish national and racial identity, from The Nation’s famed motto, “To foster a public opinion and make it racy of the soil,” to Seamus Heaney’s infamous bog poems, which wrestle with themes of kinship, lineage, and soil. I argue that such spatial language must be read as more than just figurative and instead as revealing the material relationships between race, place, and geopolitics, which have been and will continue to be crucial to Ireland’s global identity.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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