Borders and Borderlands in Contemporary Culture

Borders and Borderlands in Contemporary Culture


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It is entirely appropriate that this book should be produced in Dundalk. Located on the Northern rim of the Irish Pale, this town has straddled a border for centuries. Over the past thirty years, it has come to be closely identified with violent Republicanism both by the Unionist community in Northern Ireland and by Constitutional Nationalists in the South. Against such a hostile background academics attached to the Institute of Technology there have bravely confronted and interrogated these processes which have so blighted the history not only of Dundalk but of places and spaces throughout the world similarly located. In a wide-ranging series of articles, perhaps the strongest message to emerge is that of border as limitation. The notion of border as a liminal space where worlds converge, new realities emerge and transcendence is possible rarely surfaces. Instead, the border as a physical manifestation of divisiveness is repeatedly explored. In a passionate statement of solidarity with the Palestinians, Lavalette describes the construction of the apartheid wall: The wall is eight feet high and has a watchtower every three hundred metres. Although there are no maps, it is thought it could end up being close to one thousand kilometres in length by the time it is completed (p. 18). Yndigegn shows how spatial borders gradually become mental borders such that, as visual borders disappear, new invisible borders appear (p. 33). The article explores the dualism of borders-simultaneously protecting those inside from external threats while also preventing those inside from reaching or engaging with the outside world. Ni Eigeartaigh takes up the duality theme in the exploration of individualism as a process either of liberation or one of alienation. Taking the title from an aphorism of Kafka's My Prison Cell, My Fortress, she explores a view of contemporary society as repressive, and of its inhabitants as complicit in the repression. Drawing on a wide span of literature and disciplines, she teases through the paradox of contemporary society that the freedom gained from the liberation of the individual from communal obligations and repression has resulted in a loss of identity and an overwhelming sense of isolation and powerlessness. She concludes that in the absence of a restrictive system of social control, the individual is forced to take responsibility for his own actionsa.It is to avoid this responsibility that manyachoose the security of the prison cell above the hardship of the outside world. Her paper does not go on to look at the potential role of the State or of fundamentalist movements in playing on the fear and disconnectedness of the citizenry as an equally likely outcome to that of a stronger capability for personal responsibility. One could argue for instance that the Euoropean Fascist movement and the Nationalist movement of the early- to mid-twentieth century were both based precisely on the dislocation at personal and social level resulting from the breakdown of pre-industrial communitarian ties. While there is no attempt in the book to elucidate any particular developmental relationship between the different contributors, two broad themes may be detected-a concern with borders as socio-political and geographical constructs on the one hand and a concern with the formation of identity in the individual's relationship to the wider society on the other. Some light is cast on the latter issue by de Gregorio-Godeo who posits discourse as a core concept in identity formation. This leads to the conclusion that individual identity, in this case individualism, is in fact socially constructed in a dialectical interplay between the discursive and the social identities included-so that they are mutually shaped by each other (p.93). Using critical discourse analysis, he goes on to explore changing notions of masculinity as evidenced in the Health sections of men's magazines.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781847187567
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Publication date: 09/01/2008
Pages: 135
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Dr Aoileann Ni Eigeartaigh is a Lecturer in the Department of Humanities in Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her doctoral thesis (University of Edinburgh 2001) was entitled: I Shop, Therefore I Am: Consumerism and the Mass Media in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Bret Easton Ellis and Douglas Coupland. Her main research interests are literature (Irish and American), cultural theory and contemporary border theory. She is the vice-chair of the Irish Association for American Studies, and a founding researcher at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society at Dundalk Institute of Technology. She has published on a variety of topics related to Irish and American culture and literature, including: Mise Eire (I am Ireland): Redefining Irish Identity in the 21st Century, in Cultural Studies Journal (University of Latvia, 2005); Borders and Borderlands in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon, in Irish Journal of American Studies, vol. 11-12 (2002-2003). She also contributed 25 entries on Irish and American culture to Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History (2006). Dr David Getty is Head of the Department of Humanities at Dundalk Institute of Technology having previously been a Course Director and Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Ulster. He is a founding researcher at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society at Dundalk Institute of Technology. His research interests include the Irish Poor Law, Social Policy in Northern Ireland and special needs education and he has published a number of articles in these areas. He is presently Chair of the Irish Social Policy Association and has represented the Association on the research committee of the Royal Irish Academy.

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