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Modernization and Inequality in Pre-Famine Ireland: An Exploratory Spatial Analysis

  • David W. Miller and Leonard J. Hochberg


In recent debates over the utility of colonial and postcolonial theory for understanding the Irish past, Stephen Howe has suggested that Ireland be conceived as a seedbed for “hybrid forms” of colonialism. This essay presents a way to operationalize that suggestion by taking advantage of variants on classic central-place theory that have been proposed by students of developing countries. The analysis exploits the relatively rich demographic, administrative, and commercial data available for Ireland on the eve of the famine, a period in which the utility of a conventional colonial model is especially germane to major interpretive issues. The authors use various visualization techniques to explore these data and suggest ways of framing further research and interpretation in both Irish history and the study of other societies whose pasts have included colonial relationships.



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Social Science History
  • ISSN: 0145-5532
  • EISSN: 1527-8034
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