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Trans-formations of Gendered Identities in Ireland

  • Jeannine Woods
Chapter

Abstract

The period 1990–2010 saw several major transitions in Irish culture and society. The establishment of the IRA and UVF/LVF ceasefires and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, a significant challenge to and weakening of the position of the Catholic Church as a major power bloc within the Irish state, and the increased visibility and acceptance of non-normative gender and sexual identities at discursive and legislative levels, all occurring against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger, prompted changing constructions of national and gender identity. Critical analysis, however, cautions against the easy equation of change with unilinear progress towards equality and liberation. Looking at representations of trans identities issuing from within and without the LGBT movement at various points during the Celtic Tiger era and beyond, this paper illustrates the complex and variegated relationships between such representations and dominant discourses on gender and on national belonging. An exploration of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game and Breakfast on Pluto and on performances associated with the Alternative Miss Ireland pageant demonstrates that while representations of transgressive identities can serve to support as well as challenge hegemonic constructions of gender and nationality, performative representations, and drag performances in particular, may serve not only to queer dominant and intersecting discourses on masculinity, sexuality and national identity, but also to reinflect Bakhtin’s conception of the carnivalesque in a critical engagement both with political questions and with dominant constructions and definitions of the political field itself.

Keywords

Gender Identity Sexual Identity National Identity Dominant Discourse Irish Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cathy Cohen, ‘Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens: the radical potential of queer politics?’, in E. Patrick Johnson and Mae Henderson (eds), Black Queer Studies: a Critical Anthology (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 24.Google Scholar
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    Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, ‘Sex in public’, Critical Inquiry 24 (2) (1998), 548.Google Scholar
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    See Siobhan Somerville, ‘Queer’, in Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (eds), Keywords for American Cultural Studies (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 189.Google Scholar
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    Eithne Luibhéid, ‘Nationalist heterosexuality and Irish citizenship law’, The South Atlantic Quarterly, 110 (1) (2011), 180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Debbie Ging, ‘All-consuming images: new gender formations in post-Celtic-Tiger Ireland’, in Debbie Ging, Peadar Kirby and Michael Cronin (eds), Transforming Ireland: Challenges, Critiques and Resources (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009).Google Scholar
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    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 22.Google Scholar
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    Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, trans. Hélene Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 15.Google Scholar
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    See Butler, Gender Trouble, introduction; Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’, (New York: Routledge, 1993), 233.Google Scholar
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    See e.g. Nancy Fraser, ‘Pragmatism, feminism and the linguistic turn,’ in L. Nicholson (ed.), Feminist Contentions: a Philosophical Exchange (New York: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
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    Patrick Califia, Sex Changes: Transgender Politics (Berkeley: Cleis Press, 2003), 5.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Anne-Marie Fortier, ‘Re-membering places and the performance of belonging(s)’, in Vikki Bell (ed.), Performativity and Belonging (London: Sage, 1999), 42.Google Scholar

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© Jeannine Woods 2014

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  • Jeannine Woods

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