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Bryan Fanning

This chapter examines the origins and changing context of racism in Irish society. This relates to shifting understandings of race and racial distinctiveness, which have impacted upon Irish society. Ireland has a shared history of race and racism with other western countries as well as its own specific engagements with black societies through colonialism. Contemporary manifestations of racism are coded in a language that aims to circumvent accusations of racism. In the case of 'new racism' race is coded as culture. However, biological or phenotypical distinctions are at the heart of the distinctions made between cultures. The monocultural Irish society at the heart of theorising about Irish xenophobia is itself a social construct that emerged from a nineteenth-century discourse of nation-building with represented nations as races. Irish identity was not just constructed in opposition to Britishness. It was expressed in a sense of national pride in Irish missionary efforts.

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Bryan Fanning

In the last decade Irish society has visibly changed with the emergence of new immigrant communities of black and ethnic minorities. This book draws upon a number of academic disciplines, focusing on the relationship between ideological forms of racism and its consequences upon black and ethnic minorities. Media and political debates on racism in Ireland during this period have tended to depict it as a new phenomenon and even as one imported by asylum seekers. Ireland was never immune from the racist ideologies that governed relationships between the west and the rest despite a history of colonial anti-Irish racism. Citizenship reproduced inequalities between nationals on the basis of gender and race and ethnicity. The book explores how the processes of nation-building which shaped contemporary Irish society and the Irish state were accompanied by a politics of national identity within which claims of social membership of various minority groups were discounted. It examines the exclusionary and assimilationist consequences of Irish nationbuilding for Protestant, Jewish and Traveller minority communities. The book also considers anti-Semitism in Irish society from independence in 1922 until the 1950s. It examines how contemporary responses to refugees and asylum seekers have been shaped by a legacy of exclusionary state practices. Finally, the book talks about anti-Traveller racism, the politics of Traveller exclusion, the work of SPIARSI, and the efforts to contest racism and discrimination faced by minorities in Ireland as expressions of multiculturalism.

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Bryan Fanning

This chapter provides a case study of the politics of Traveller exclusion from 1963, with the publication of the Report of the Commission on Itinerancy, to the end of the twentieth century. During the 1980s Ennis Travellers contested what they described as discrimination in the allocation of council housing on a number of occasions. Travellers in the Ennis area had a deep-rooted antipathy to the site because of its proximity to Drumcliffe cemetery where many of their dead were buried. Opposition to Traveller accommodation was justified on an ongoing basis by allegations of violence by Travellers against settled people. Clare County Council, in conjunction with the local authorities in neighbouring counties, sought to develop the camp as accommodation for all Travellers living within a twenty or thirty mile radius of Limerick city.

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Bryan Fanning

This chapter examines dominant conceptions of Irish national identity. It explores the development of exclusionary conceptions of identity homogeneity linked to nationalism and nation-building from the nineteenth century onwards with reference to the experiences of Protestant, Jewish and Traveller minority communities. The new sporting 'traditions' fostered a republicanism which equated Irishness with Catholicism. Social policy was to some extent shaped by ideological aspirations for a Gaelic-Catholic Ireland. Throughout the nineteenth century profound shifts occurred within Irish nationalism whereby one hegemonic construction of Irishness which emphasised the Irishness of the minority Protestant elite was gradually displaced by a new Catholic 'Irish-Ireland' nationalist hegemony. The relationship between nationalism and anti-Semitism in 1904 was therefore characterised by a number of elements. After the 1920s the Protestant community lost their distinct political identity within Irish politics.

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Bryan Fanning

This chapter examines efforts to contest racism and discrimination faced by minorities in Ireland as expressions of multiculturalism. The multiculturalism is characterised by a narrow focus on liberal democratic rights with little emphasis upon racism as a factor in inequality and discrimination. It is argued that the dominant concepts within mainstream Irish equality discourse, 'interculturalism' and 'integration', become detached from their meanings within critiques, originating with Traveller organisations, of racism and cultural assimilation. Interculturalism in education has been promoted by Traveller groups and by the Irish National Teachers Organisation rather than the state. Many of the measures identified with interculturalism in Ireland have emerged within the voluntary sector. The notion that symbolic measures alone constitute a weak multiculturalism is an important point in the Irish context. Racism and inequality prevail unless symbolic multiculturalism goes hand in hand with measures to challenge the structural inequalities experienced by black and ethnic minorities.

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Rebecca Walker

Weaving stories together, Meena revealed a rich tapestry of daily life, which reflected not only her own but many other women's lives in the east. Meena's birthplace, Kokkadichcholai, a home to some important temples, holds historical and cultural significance for the Tamils of the east. Kokkadichcholai is an area that has been continuously fought over by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government forces, falling into the hands of one then the other, rendering civilians vulnerable and facing continual violence in the process. It is clear that Meena's situation was relieved somewhat when she was able to access training through various women-based organisations. This reflects some of the work that was being done to provide support to widows in eastern Sri Lanka during the 1990s.

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Mapping spaces and lives

Batticaloa and the east

Series:

Rebecca Walker

This chapter focuses on an understanding of space and activism or 'active living' in relation to the Valkai group. It sketches out the east of Sri Lanka in terms of the ethnic makeup of the area and some of the particularities of kinship patterns, caste, and marriage. As one of the nine provinces in Sri Lanka, the Eastern Province is divided into three administrative districts, forty-five Divisional Secretary's (DS) Divisions, and 1,085 Grama Niladhari(GN) Divisions, also known as Grama Sevaka (GS) Divisions. Together with the Ampara and Trincomalee districts, Batticaloa district forms the Eastern Province. The chapter looks more closely at the 2004 events of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) split and the tsunami. It considers the kinds of spaces that were opened up in the advent of chaos and confusion, but then rapidly shut down (controlled and militarised) once again.

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Rebecca Walker

This chapter traces author's journey in terms of the specific situations and problems she encountered, which, in turn, reflect on a number of key ideas. These include configuring social and cultural relationships with others, negotiating fear and violence, making moral and ethical judgments, learning how and who to trust, and learning how to listen, to the silences as well as the words being said. In Batticaloa, documenting details and stories in writing could also be a risky business given that the army would regularly search houses or stop people at checkpoints. Silences, whispers, rumours, and gossip were all part of the social practices of living and enduring in Batticaloa in which bonds of intimacy and claims to knowledge were intertwined with risk and protecting the self.

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Bryan Fanning

Travellers legacy is characterised by the persistence of institutional racism in many areas of social policy, a long-standing denial of Traveller ethnicity and denial of anti-Traveller racism. The account of Travellers set out in the minority report depicted them as a deviant and transgressive underclass. The Report of the Commission on Itinerancy, the Report of the Travelling People Review Body and the Report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community depicted shifts in institutional responses to Travellers. These shifts have influenced equality legislation and responses to new minority communities. The discourses on culture and ethnicity within the Report of the Task Force represented ideological conflicts between dominant monoculturalism and nascent Irish multiculturalism which owed to the influence of Traveller organisations. The Primary Health Care for Travellers Project has identified poverty, poor accommodation and cultural stress resulting from discrimination and exclusion as causes of health inequalities experienced by Travellers.

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Series:

Rebecca Walker

The life of forty-year-old Rani illustrates many of the hardships and suffering experienced by women living in the east of Sri Lanka. For Rani, the symbolism of the coconut tree lay not only in its relationship to her son, but in the way that it seemed to open up a space for conversation and shared meaning which may not have existed before. Through its personification as 'kuti annar', the tree allowed Rani and her family to keep their son and brother in mind, both as remembrance and as a marker of present and future activity and movement. Like Rani, Sivam and his team's experience of the everyday was revealed through their daily performance of activities and tasks. The activities of Sivam and the other fishermen presented an interesting contrast to the daily lives and experiences of Anuloja, Meena, Rani, and the other women and mothers in the border villages.