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Abstract

When dealing with notions of immigration and hospitality, there is a third concept that often unavoidably follows suit: that of the Other. Usually identified with what is different, what is not understood as equal to the self and/or its inherent cultural, linguistic, or racial identity, the Other is perceived as an outsider, someone—or something—that, due to its difference, is often feared and most of the times not welcome into the domain/territory of the self. Likewise, the concept of race is also unmistakably linked to that of the Other, as the former embodies what can perhaps be conceived as the most obvious and identifiable of differences: a visible mark of otherness that is, by definition, inextricably engrained within the alien individual.

Certain past—and present—discourses on migration have capitalized on the relation between notions of otherness, race, and the migrant as an intruder and a perceived need of self-preservation in order to reinforce and implement several anti-immigration policies, which are, in turn, often paralleled in the society’s rejecting attitude towards those immigrants. In the case of the US, instances of such practices against the racialized immigrant have been evident in the Asian Immigration Ban implemented during a good part of the twentieth century, or the Anti-immigration rants that President Trump frequently directs towards Mexicans, among other examples.

One of those other examples is the attitude towards the Irish immigrants that arrived in the US during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even though there are apparently little linguistic and racial differences between the Irish and the white population of the US, the Irish’s whiteness was by no means taken for granted during the better part of that period. And yet, unlike other racialized groups of immigrants—as well as other ‘resident’ collectives like the African Americans or the Native Americans—the Irish were able to achieve the recognition of whiteness that they had been previously denied.

Based on the works of previous scholars like Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White (1996), this chapter will trace the Irish trip towards whiteness in the US and the efforts of its individuals across generations to achieve it. To illustrate this process, examples of its representation in novels depicting the Irish-American experience such as Frank McCourt’s ’Tis (1999), Mary Gordon’s The Other Side (1989), and Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings (1972) will be employed.

In: The Poetics and Politics of Hospitality in U.S. Literature and Culture
In: Creating Memory and Cultural Identity in African American Trauma Fiction
In: Creating Memory and Cultural Identity in African American Trauma Fiction
In: Creating Memory and Cultural Identity in African American Trauma Fiction
How do contemporary African American authors relate trauma, memory, and the recovery of the past with the processes of cultural and identity formation in African American communities?
Patricia San José analyses a variety of novels by authors like Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and David Bradley and explores these works as valuable instruments for the disclosure, giving voice, and public recognition of African American collective and historical trauma.

Abstract

When dealing with notions of immigration and hospitality, there is a third concept that often unavoidably follows suit: that of the Other. Usually identified with what is different, what is not understood as equal to the self and/or its inherent cultural, linguistic, or racial identity, the Other is perceived as an outsider, someone—or something—that, due to its difference, is often feared and most of the times not welcome into the domain/territory of the self. Likewise, the concept of race is also unmistakably linked to that of the Other, as the former embodies what can perhaps be conceived as the most obvious and identifiable of differences: a visible mark of otherness that is, by definition, inextricably engrained within the alien individual.

Certain past—and present—discourses on migration have capitalized on the relation between notions of otherness, race, and the migrant as an intruder and a perceived need of self-preservation in order to reinforce and implement several anti-immigration policies, which are, in turn, often paralleled in the society’s rejecting attitude towards those immigrants. In the case of the US, instances of such practices against the racialized immigrant have been evident in the Asian Immigration Ban implemented during a good part of the twentieth century, or the Anti-immigration rants that President Trump frequently directs towards Mexicans, among other examples.

One of those other examples is the attitude towards the Irish immigrants that arrived in the US during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even though there are apparently little linguistic and racial differences between the Irish and the white population of the US, the Irish’s whiteness was by no means taken for granted during the better part of that period. And yet, unlike other racialized groups of immigrants—as well as other ‘resident’ collectives like the African Americans or the Native Americans—the Irish were able to achieve the recognition of whiteness that they had been previously denied.

Based on the works of previous scholars like Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White (1996), this chapter will trace the Irish trip towards whiteness in the US and the efforts of its individuals across generations to achieve it. To illustrate this process, examples of its representation in novels depicting the Irish-American experience such as Frank McCourt’s ’Tis (1999), Mary Gordon’s The Other Side (1989), and Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings (1972) will be employed.

In: The Poetics and Politics of Hospitality in U.S. Literature and Culture

During recent years, Trauma has been insistently coupled with notions of history and historicism. Indeed, recent concepts like that of historical memory and historical rectification are being broadly used in socio-political contexts in clear conjunction with it. Moreover, the fact that history is no longer seen as a mere account of past deeds and events but as a crucial element for the formation of collective identity positions trauma and its relation with history and identity formation at the core of numerous sociological and political discourses. And yet, if trauma is intrinsically related to the past, in its tendency to reappear and repeat itself both in the form of recursive symptoms and as intergenerational transmission, it is also unavoidably connected to the present and even to the future. It is precisely this concept that lies at the core of Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day. This novel, in its representation of the inhabitants of Willow Springs and their troubling relationships with the past, offers a compelling example of how past personal and collective traumas, though intrinsically intertwined with history, can be later forgotten only to reappear later in the form of myth and traditions. Thus, through an analysis of the narrative and its progressive unveiling of the true story behind those masked traditions, this article will show how trauma can be embedded even in the most fantastic and mythicised of histories and is bound to reappear and repeat itself unless it is directly approached and internalised in the ever-changing narratives of both individuals and community.

In: Is this a Culture of Trauma? An Interdisciplinary Perspective