Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Land League in the United States and Ireland: Nationalism, gender and ethnicity in the Gilded Age
by Janis, Ely M., Ph.D., Boston College, 2008, 372; 3310161
Abstract (Summary)

American historians in the last twenty years have emphasized the need to explore the history of the United States by looking beyond the narrow confines of the nation state. Previous interpretations arguing for American exceptionalism and insulation from international influence have been revised as historians examine the American past through a transnational lens. Our understanding of lrish-American history in the nineteenth century, particularly the process of ethnic nationalism, is conspicuously in need of revision. Irish-American participation in Irish nationalism demonstrates the continued importance of events in Ireland on the history of the Irish in America. My dissertation examines the complex interplay of nationalism, ethnicity, class, and gender in the shaping of Irish-American ethnic identity. Such an examination is important not just for understanding Irish-American history but for understanding what it meant to be ethnic and American in the late nineteenth century. My dissertation also places American history in a broad transatlantic context.

The dissertation focuses on the Land League movement in the United States and Ireland in the 1880s and examines the transatlantic nature and influence of Irish-American nationalism. The Land League was an Irish agrarian movement that quickly became the most popular Irish nationalist movement of the nineteenth-century. Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell founded the Land League in Ireland in 1879, against the backdrop of crop failure and agrarian unrest. It soon had branches throughout the Irish diaspora, including Canada, Australia, and Britain as well as the United States. Branches of the Land League were founded across the United States and thousands of Irish Americans participated in branches in their local communities.

Unlike studies that focus exclusively on immigrant activities in America, my research demonstrates the continued link of immigrants with their country of origin through the development of a vibrant transatlantic Irish nationalism. My dissertation demonstrates the important contribution of women and the working class in Irish nationalist movements and their impact in shaping Irish ethnic identity in the United States. The dissertation also argues that Irish nationalism was an important element of many American Gilded Age social reform movements such as the Knights of Labor, Catholic colonization, and attempts at agrarian reform. In the late nineteenth century the newly reunited United States struggled to reconstruct itself in a period of dramatic demographic, economic, political, and social change. My work explains the vital and dynamic part played by Irish Americans in this search for a new order; men and women in the Land League were critical actors in efforts to achieve political and social reform in the United States.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kenny, Kevin
School: Boston College
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, American history, Minority & ethnic groups, Sociology
Keywords: Ethnic identity, Gender, Gilded Age, Immigrants, Ireland, Irish question, Irish-American, Land League, Nationalism, United States
Publication Number: 3310161
ISBN: 9780549585893
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