‘Our identity is our own instability’
Intercultural exchanges and the redefinition of identity in Hugo Hamilton’s Disguise and Hand in the Fire
in Literary visions of multicultural Ireland
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This chapter examines the reconceptualisation of stable definitions of individual and collective identities in its critical assessment of Hugo Hamilton's two most recent novels, Disguise and Hand in the Fire. The author starts by exposing the limits of the concept of the ‘migrant nation’ defended in the mid 1990s by Kearney and the then president Mary Robinson, as such a concept runs the risk of reinforcing an ethnocultural base to definitions of Irish national identity. The author shows how such a monological understanding of collective identity is debunked in Hamilton's writings, which openly exercise what Ronit Lentin (2001a) calls a ‘politics of interrogation’ of conventional definitions of Irishness.

Literary visions of multicultural Ireland

The immigrant in contemporary Irish literature

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