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Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race$
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Bruce Nelson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153124

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153124.001.0001

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Celts, Hottentots, and “white chimpanzees”

Celts, Hottentots, and “white chimpanzees”

The Racialization of the Irish in the Nineteenth Century

(p.30) Chapter Two Celts, Hottentots, and “white chimpanzees”
Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race

Bruce Nelson

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the racialization of the Irish in the nineteenth century. The English had long compared the Irish with the “savages of America”; a practice dating back to the seventeenth century. However, there was a dramatically new development in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when Darwinian science posited an evolutionary chain of being in which humans were descended directly from African apes. In this context, British commentators created a “simianized,” or apelike, Paddy whose likeness to the “backward” races of Africa was inescapable. At least four major historical factors were at work in Paddy's devolution. They can be encapsulated in the words “empire,” “Fenianism,” “emigration,” and “science.”

Keywords:   Irish nationalism, Ireland, England, racialization, Darwin, evolution

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