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British Association for American Studies


New Modalities of Irishness: Performance, Race and Inequality - British Association for American Studies


New Modalities of Irishness: Performance, Race and Inequality


University College Dublin Clinton Institute and Boston University College of Fine Arts are pleased to announce a symposia series entitled “New Modalities of Irishness.” We invite proposals for our first symposium to be held on 24 June 2023 at Boston University. A second symposium is planned for October 2023 at University College Dublin.

In an era of heightened self-consciousness in regard to whiteness, Irishness toggles between racial positions and performs complex mediations.  Irishness has long held a particular and privileged position among European ethnicities in the American worldview. In the current era this category may present itself as newly in flux, increasingly divorced from seemingly stable definitions of “heritage,” and available to support new assertions of identity along a racial spectrum.

Now associated with forward social momentum in many respects, Ireland represents a new sort of contrast to a United States that appears to be losing its traditional sense of purchase in regard to a positive futurity. Notably, the capacity for Irishness to function as a place marker for ethnic pride and white working-class memory has decisively shifted amidst a new global landscape of intense inequality.  Analysis of Irishness would benefit from deeper consideration of Irishness’ place in contemporary US class imaginaries and particularly its emergence as a safe white identity marker for elites. Meanwhile Ireland itself is increasingly reckoning with a set of more complex social features stimulated by globalism.

This symposium will consider distinctive modalities and mediations of Irishness, particularly as these are inflected with racial identifications and displacements and encoded across media, including theatre/performance, film/television, and myriad forms of communication. Today, Irishness flows through key digital channels in forms such as emigration blogs, Instagram posts and TikTok dance videos. It is timely to consider the characteristics and effects of such manifestations of Irishness and the research protocols suited to studying them.

Please send a 200-word paper or panel proposal (for a 20-30 minute presentation) by 21 April to Professor Liam Kennedy (, Professor Diane Negra ( and Professor Harvey Young (