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“THE INEFFACEABLE CURSE OF CAIN”: RACE, MISCEGENATION, AND THE VICTORIAN STAGING OF IRISHNESS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 May 2002

Scott Boltwood
Affiliation:
Emory & Henry College

Abstract

THROUGHOUT THE NINETEENTH CENTURY both the English popular and scientific communities increasingly argued for a distinct racial difference between the Irish Celt and the English Saxon, which conceptually undermined the Victorian attempt to form a single kingdom from the two peoples. The ethnological discourse concerning Irish identity was dominated by English theorists who reflect their empire’s ideological necessity; thus, the Celt and Saxon were often described as racial siblings early in the nineteenth century when union seemed possible, while later descriptions of the Irish as members of a distant or degenerate race reflect the erosion of public sympathy caused by the era of violence following the failed revolt of 1848. Amid this deluge of scientific discourse, the Irish were treated as mute objects of analysis, lacking any opportunity for formal rejoinder; nonetheless, these essentially English discussions of racial identity and Irishness also entered into the Irish popular culture.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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