You are here : Home > Research
  • Research,

Call for papers - Ireland : identity and interculturality - SOFEIR Conference

from August 17, 2013 to October 15, 2013

Seminar "SOciété Française d'Etudes IRlandaises (SOFEIR)" - IRELAND : IDENTITY AND INTERCULTURALITY - Conference date : from march 21st to 22nd 2014

“Like every other culture (…) ours is diverse, many-layered, dynamic, open to influences and ideas from every direction, full of conflicts and contradictions, and continually emerging.” Fintan O’Toole, in his article “The Clod and the Continent: Irish Identity in the European Union”, provides this definition of an Irish culture in movement, open to foreign influences and constantly redefining itself. The years of strong economic growth, Irish and UK membership of the European Union and the recent arrival of so many immigrants are all factors which have significantly modified the Irish socio-cultural landscape. How has Irish identity adapted to the challenges of multiculturalism? Do the Irish, both in the Republic and in Northern Ireland, perceive the growing influence of foreign cultures as something which enriches or threatens their own identity? These questions are all the more relevant today, as economic crises are often periods when tensions arise between the dominant group(s) and minorities.

Going beyond a strictly contemporary framework, we also invite participants of this conference to examine the role played by interculturalism and the relationship to the Other in the definition of identity on the island, and to study the dynamism of Irish culture which has constantly redefined itself when it comes into contact with foreign, and in particular European, cultures in a dual movement of repulsion and attraction. The Other, the foreigner, can also serve as a foil when it comes to defining Irish identity – Catholics were not English and Ulster Protestants were not Catholics, for example. Samuel Beckett, when asked if he was English, famously riposted “au contraire”.

The very notion of Irish identity can vary depending on the period, on the place and on who is defining it. Participants are thus encouraged to analyse how the various communities (Catholics, Protestants, Travellers, immigrants and asylum seekers, speakers of English, of Irish, or of Ulster Scots, etc) cohabit on the island, view their own Irishness or, failing that, their place in Irish society, and the Irishness of others.

If the Other can be a counterpoint, (s)he can also serve as a model or be a source of enrichment. In this way, Irish nationalism benefited from the influence of schools of thought and ideas from elsewhere: the economic theories of Arthur Griffith adapted the work of the German economist Frederick List to the Irish context; James Connolly and James Larkin founded the Irish workers’ movement in light of what existed in Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe; the creation of the GAA was a response to the wish by the British to codify a certain number of sports; the Celtic Revival, with the aim of distinguishing itself from England, drew inspiration from French avant-garde poetry and theatre, to give but a few examples.

In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement was made possible as a result of the effective mediation of foreign powers, in particular the US and the European Union, in addition to the determination of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to reach an agreement. The power-sharing mechanism put in place by the Agreement draws extensively upon foreign political systems (Arend Lipjhart 1977, 1980). Similarly, the reform of the police and the criminal justice system were influenced by systems which existed elsewhere. Finally, the adoption by the United Kingdom of the European Convention on Human Rights modified the UK constitutional format and challenged its established values. After decades of internal conflict, opening up to the outside helped to pave the way for a lasting peace. Furthermore, this progressive pacification of relations between Catholics and Protestants opens up other fields of enquiry. We welcome papers analysing the place of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland today and the influence their presence has had on society there
Papers are obviously not limited to these suggested avenues of enquiry. We believe this theme can include contributions from the following disciplines:

  • history and history of ideas
  • sociology
  • political science
  • linguistics
  • literature
  • history of art

Conference organisers : Christian Mailhes, Bairbre Ní Chiosáin, Anne-Marie O'Connell, Charlotte Rault

Partners :
Les propositions de communication, comprenant un titre provisoire et un résumé de 300 à 350 mots maximum sont à envoyer avant le 15 octobre 2013  à :

Proposals for papers (300-350 words), in English and in French, should be sent by 15 October 2013 to :
Contact :
Bairbre Ní Chiosáin :
Updated on September 6, 2013