The mixed race Irish family and everyday negotiations of citizenship
AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
act of citizenship
mixed race family
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AbstractIn recent years, the mixed race family constellation has emerged as a persistent feature of Irish societal life. An increase in interracial partnering invariably leads to the presence of white women who are parenting children who are ascribed to another race. Yet, nationalist discourses and the incorporation of jus sanguinis principles in constitutional law have constructed a version of Irishness that ‘others’ and excludes the mixed race person. This paper focuses on the white Irish mother and her mixed race (i.e. black African/white Irish) child (ren), as the majority of mixed race families in the State. In fact, this article sets out to provide a novel perspective vis-à-vis the location of the mixed race family in the context of the exclusionary politics of Irish citizenship and how, through their mothering practices, these white women negotiate and challenge dominant ideologies of belonging on behalf of their children. More specifically, this paper examines the mothers’ attempts to establish their children as equal claimants of rights in the Irish public sphere. By drawing on in-depth interviews with twelve white Irish mothers, this paper reveals that the women’s efforts to publicly articulate their mixed race children as legitimate Irish citizens have been largely denied or even, de-politicized. Rather, at the level of citizenship, the racialized insider-outsider dynamic gets reproduced as the political autonomy of such citizens is constrained by notions of phenotype (and bloodline criteria). I further draw attention to the governmental production of these mixed race subjects as ‘failed’ citizens, who must live out their difference silently in the interstitial spaces of the national framework.
CitationO’Malley P (2021) 'The mixed race Irish family and everyday negotiations of citizenship', Ethnicities, 21 (5), pp.934-952.
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd