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We are all mongrels now

A new generation of Irish intellectuals is exploring the hybrid nature of Irish and British identity. Neal Ascherson finds their views appealing but politically impractical

By Neal Ascherson   April 1997

Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, culture, philosophy by Richard Kearney Routledge, 1996, £12.99

After the revolutions of 1989, the study of nationalism burst into gaudy flower and in due course the fruits began to rain down: some strange, some rotten before they were ripe, but most of them juicy. The buds had already sprouted in the 1970s and 1980s, with the pioneering work of Ernest Gellner, Tom Nairn, Anth-ony Smith and others. Now came the books, the television series, the hasty establishment of academic centres for nationalism studies, the PhD theses and finally the political speeches which showed that the new enquiries…

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