Monday, December 27, 2010

O'Neill reviews Murphy, "American Slavery, Irish Freedom"

From H-CivWar, we have this review of Angela F. Murphy, American Slavery, Irish Freedom: Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010). Reviewer Peter D. O'Neill (University of Southern California), calls the book "[w]ell written and impressively researched," and expects it will "be of significant value to scholars of nineteenth-century transatlantic social movements, as well as to those interested in racial formation in the United States."

Here are the opening paragraphs of the review:

Ever since the 1790 immigration laws defined citizenship as being the prerogative of “free white persons,” notions of American citizenship and American nationality have contradicted each other regularly. While the legal apparatus defines the parameters of citizenship, nationality is defined through various cultural, ideological, and political discourses that compete within the U.S. cultural imaginary. Representing the psychic and social dimensions of citizenship, “nationality,” writes Robert G. Lee, “contains and manages the contradictions of the hierarchies and inequalities of a social formation.”[1] Unlike citizenship, which is fixed within the state, nationality is an unstable and contested concept. The difference between these two notions mirrors the difference between race and ethnicity in nineteenth-century America.

Nowhere is the contradictory relationship between citizenship and nationality clearer than during the intricate pas de deux performed by the Irish repeal and American abolition movements in the United States during the 1840s. Angela F. Murphy’s timely book, American Slavery, Irish Freedom, presents the first in-depth treatment of this transnational ballet. While the work is not specifically aimed at exposing the differences between citizenship and nationality, it does so with admirable clarity.

You can find the rest here.

Hat tip: H-Law

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