From Acceptance to Assimilation: The Changing Role of Travellers in the (Re)Creation of Irish National Identity, 1920s-1960s

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Gurski, Erin




This thesis looks at the place of the formerly nomadic Irish Travellers in the construction of a complex folklore-based Irish national identity in the mid-twentieth century. Using the archives of the Irish Folklore Commission, this thesis argues that as the Irish government constructed Ireland’s new national identity following independence in1922, the Travellers were included in this identity based on their community’s possession of Irish folklore. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, as the importance of folklore in the creation of the national identity diminished in favour
of modernization, the government gradually singled out the Travellers as a problematic minority that needed to be assimilated into the majority population. By challenging the existing historiography, this research highlights the importance of discussing the historical contingency, as opposed to inevitability, of constructions of the Traveller as ‘Other’ to encourage a more comprehensive and therefore less deterministic history.


European History
History - Modern




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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