Historical Revisionism Postcolonial Theory Good Friday Agreement Northern Ireland
Finlay, Andrew R., Irish studies, cultural pluralism and the peace process, Irish Studies Review, 15, 3, 2007, 333, 345
15 3 Irish Studies Review
Prompted by events, notably the citizenship referendum held in the Republic of Ireland in 2004, this article explores the influence of revisionism and postcolonial theory in the development of the ideas about cultural identity and pluralism that underpin the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). This is not a matter of intellectual claims-making: it bears seriously on how we assess the GFA and its potential: does it articulate an essentialist view of identity or, as some postcolonial theorists have argued, a more radical view of identity as open-ended and fluid? The wording of the GFA is ambiguous, but, far from being radical and postcolonial, the notions of cultural identity and pluralism that underpin the Agreement owe more to revisionist thought. This argument appears paradoxical for revisionism is sometimes characterised as a form of liberalism, and elsewhere in the world cultural pluralism emerges as a critique of Enlightenment thought and the ideological projects that emerged from it, including liberalism. In fact liberalism and cultural pluralism have long been reconciled, and the article seeks to demonstrate that this reconciliation, in Ireland as elsewhere, is based on an essentialist conflation of individual and collective identity.
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