Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, History, University of Birmingham, UK

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Brown University
The Cultural and Political Legacies of the Anglo-Irish War in England, 1916-1939

My dissertation will examine the variety of ramifications of the Anglo-Irish War and Irish independence on British and especially English society and culture throughout the 1920s and 1930s. I contend that this episode should be interpreted as the first decolonization and that it sheds light on the debate over the impact of empire on Britain. Using a variety of personal and organizational papers as well as memoirs, testimony, and published sources, I will investigate how the breaking off of Ireland fits into the construction of a new model of English self-sufficiency. My project will focus on four key groups--English activists, Irish immigrant nationalists, English soldiers, and tourists--and will center on the following questions: How was Ireland transformed from a battleground into a pastoral ideal for English tourists, and how did that ideal fit with the contemporary romanticizatioon of English rural life? What lasting impressions did ordinary English soldiers bring back with them from service in Ireland? Why did English and Anglo-Irish people become involved in Irish pressure groups and how did that commitment affect their later careers? To what extent did nationalist and republican organizations active in England provide a focus for immigrant culture and politicization, and how did that minority culture fit into the larger society? Through these complicated human stories, located at various points along the fissure opening up between Britain and Ireland, I argue that it is possible to demonstrate the intimate connection between these two countries and the very personal violence of their political dissolution. Furthermore, I hypothesize that the political and culture patterns set by that dissolution are essential to understanding the strange mixture of violence abroad and apathy at home that characterized so much of Britain's post-1945 decolonizing experience.