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Deconstructing Ireland

Identity, Theory, Culture

Colin Graham

Paperback (Printed to Order)

Deconstructing Ireland intervenes with authority and originality in an area rife with debate and passionate opinion, where cultural theory and analysis run alongside the daily challenge of political events. Colin Graham examines the course by which the history of modernity and colonialism has constructed an idea of 'Ireland', produced more often as a citation than an actuality.

The author's approach - using Derridean deconstruction in alliance with positions in postcolonial and Subaltern Studies - illuminates the way in which this concept of the nation plays across discourses of authenticity, fiction and fantasy in a fascinating range of material. Successive chapters examine the utopian musings of Ignatius Donnelly, John Mitchel and Seán Hillen; the continuing reinvention of Irish criticism; the relation of the figure of the intellectual-artist and the 'people' in James Joyce; the tension between postcolonialism and nationalism in the Field Day project and the political thought of John Hume and Richard Kearney; the relation of gender and nation in stories by Gerry Adams and Frank Delaney; the complex appeal to authenticity in political philosophy, tourism and advertising; and the resonant cultural meanings of 'Irish' ephemera and kitsch.

Deconstructing Ireland presents a compelling, astutely theorised cultural history. It will be of interest to readers both inside and outside Irish Studies, who are keen to unravel the implications of postcoloniality and to understand the role of literature, political writing, popular culture and criticism itself in maintaining, deconstructing, and reconfiguring the idea of national identity.

Key Features

  • Includes illustrations of various images of Ireland
  • Offers a unique and compelling cultural history of Ireland
  • Considers relationship of cultural forms such as television, film, tourism, advertising to the formation of Irish identity
  • Sets these cultural forms against the complacencies of an essentialised 'Irishness' constructed by dominant cultural and political discourse


The book itself more than lives up to its title, encompassing generic, historical, and evaluative issues within a coherent argument.. Perhaps its greatest strength is the nuanced nature of its pronouncements. Graham is well aware of the ease with which opinion becomes hypertrophied, and his careful teasing out of different strands of thought ensures that this does not happen.
- Eugene O'Brien
In the tangled debates bewtween various theories and applications of postcoloniality and postmodernity, Deconstructiong Ireland is a welcome … contribution which makes important connections across a diverse selection of material … Graham sensitively unknots and unravels some of the implications … he uses of postcolonial theory, revisionism and postnationalism in contemporary Irish criticsm …
- Irish Studies Review
Graham's critique of post-nationalism is arguably one of the most insightful yet published.
- Political Studies
This book bristles with bright ideas. It is a powerful example of how contemporary theoretical models - from deconstruction and feminism to revisionism and postcolonialism - can be used to shed new light on the study of Irish culture. This book is a valuable contribution to the expanding Irish studies industry. It is written with panache and, at times, with ingenuity.
- The Irish Times
Fascinating cultural history … Some wonderful ideas and observations.
- Books Ireland

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