Gathering places: Stories of a twentieth-century Irish American woman
AuthorWilliamson, Kathleen G.
AdvisorHill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is a narrative ethnobiography based on anthropological fieldwork I conducted with my mother, Mae, who was both collaborator and subject. Between 1995 and 1998, I researched Mae's life history and cultural worlds by traveling with her to visit the places and people of her past in Ireland and New York. As such, this project contributes to the literature on life stories by employing conversations within a community rather than the single uncontested voice of an interview. This work provides the first-hand accounts of a group neglected in research, that of 20th-century Irish female immigrants, and examines the impact of patriarchal economic and domestic constraints on this group. The theoretical concerns of this work include discussions about the nature of place, memory, and constructions of individual and cultural self. I argue beyond academic and popular functionalist "sense of place" discourses, a constructive phenomenon I call "the Brigadoon Syndrome," to illuminate the "senses of displace" felt within Irish and Irish American cultures. The sense of Ireland as a transatlantic place in a liminal state between traditionalism and global modernity is also emergent in the narratives. Although centered in dialogical anthropology, my methodological and theoretical approach shifts in focus from an anthropology of culture to an "anthropology of place." This shift occurs along the lines of recent phenomenological philosophy concerned with place, anthropological innovations concerned with the multiplicity, interconnectedness, cultural meaning of place, and cultural studies in transnational and global modernity. In order to understand Irish and Irish American culture, the analysis herein is attentive to social dialogical constructions of place, memory, gender, migration, local and nationalistic identities, religion, death, and family.
Degree ProgramGraduate College