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Geography militant: Resistance and the essentialisation of identity in colonial Ireland

John Morrissey


In recent years, a growing recognition of the interconnections (in addition to the conflicts) between the worlds of the coloniser and the colonised has enabled the construction of an enhanced collection of differentiated and nuanced historicogeographical accounts of the spaces and practices of colonialism. Indeed, it has become somewhat fashionable in postcolonial studies to emphasise the fluidity and 'in-between space' of 'colonial' projects and 'native' reaction. This is, however, arguably to the detriment of engaging the enmity and violence frequently an integral part of the colonial enterprise. This paper interrogates the in-between spaces of a colonial Ireland just beginning to be defined in the early seventeenth century and demonstrates how they were delimited ultimately by an essentialised envisioning of a radical settler colonial discourse and a corresponding exclusivism in colonial practice on the ground. By examining the outbreak of the 1641 Rebellion in Munster, the discussion considers the emergence of competing and exclusive Protestant and Catholic identities, and highlights the bounded nature of cultural interaction in early modem Ireland.

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