Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Joshua F. J. Inwood

Committee Members

Derek Alderman, Ronald Kalafsky, Micheline van Riemsdijk, Rosalind Hackett

Abstract

This dissertation evaluates the contested notions of identity (e.g. ethno-racial, religious, and national) and the growing tensions between native-born Irish citizens and recently arrived immigrants living in the Republic of Ireland. Examining these political and cultural intersections broadens our geographic understandings by contributing to larger geographic literatures consisting of: the geographies of inclusion and exclusion; collective identity construction; sense of belonging; community – both real and imagined; small-scale human territoriality; (social) integration; religiosity; and, of course, notions of Irishness. Despite the significance of these geographic issues in contemporary society, there exists a considerable lacuna within the discipline of Geography as it relates to the study of the multiple intersections that exist between ethno-racial, religious, and national identities, and what this ultimately means in a society that is rapidly changing due to increased immigration. Consequently, this study addresses this absence within the literature and adds nuance and depth to contemporary understandings of these socio-spatial intersections. These topics will be examined through a case study conducted over the course of three years (2012-2014) at the Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF), a non-denominational and multicultural Christian church, and the surrounding South Dublin community where the church is located.

The overarching framework of this dissertation centers on the social integration process of migrants and how the recent influx of large-scale immigration has rapidly transformed Ireland from the homogeneous monoculture it once was perceived to be into a heterogeneous multicultural society. While this research specifically investigates Irish identity, or more precisely, the contemporary conceptualizations and constructions of Irish identity, the issues and themes that are addressed have a broader application and significance when placed in a larger European context. The Republic of Ireland is not alone regarding the various social changes that are associated with a large increase of immigrants within a society. Similar contestations of identity are currently occurring throughout much of Europe and this has unfortunately resulted in an increase of xenophobic rhetoric accompanied by the ethno-racial discrimination and religious bigotry that are typically associated with it.

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