Famine Irish and the American Racial State ( Routledge 2017)

Accounts of Irish racialization in the United States have tended to stress Irish difference. Famine Irish and the American Racial State takes a different stance. This interdisciplinary, comparative, transnational work uses an array of cultural artifacts, including novels, plays, songs, cartoons, government reports, laws, sermons, memoirs, and how-to manuals, to make its case. It challenges the claim that the Irish “became white” in the United States, showing that the claim fails to take into full account the legal position of the Irish in the nineteenth-century US state – a state that deemed the Irish “white” upon arrival. The Irish thus not only fitted into the US racial state; they helped to form it. Till now, little heed has been paid to the state’s role in the Americanization of the Irish or to the Irish role in the development of US state institutions. Distinguishing American citizenship from American nationality, this volume journeys to California to analyze the means by which the Irish gained acceptance in both categories, at the expense of the Chinese. Along the way, it contests ideas that have taken hold within American studies. One is the notion that the Roman Catholic Church operated outside of the power structure of the nineteenth-century United States. On the contrary, Famine Irish and the American Racial State argues, the Irish-led corporate Catholic Church became deeply imbricated in US state structures. Its final chapter discusses a radical, transnational, Irish tradition that offers a glimpse at a postnational future.

Read the full Introduction here. To read Chapter 1, see Journal Articles section below.

Read Aidan Beatty’s review in Breac (Sept. 2018)  here

Read Lindsay Janssen’s review in English Studies, 99:8, 1001-1003, (Nov. 2018) here

Edited Collection

The Black and Green Atlantic: Crosscurrents of the African and Irish Diasporas, co-edited with David Lloyd (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

bga2                                                                                                                                                                                           For centuries, African and Irish people have traversed the Atlantic, as slaves, servants, migrants, exiles, political organizers and cultural workers. Their experiences intersected; their cultures influenced one another. These essays explore the connections that have defined the ‘Black and Green Atlantic’ in culture, politics, race and labour.

Reviewed in Irish Studies Review 26.1 (2018); Journal of American Studies, 46 (2012); Atlantic Studies 8:3 (September 2011); European Journal of American Studies (January 2011); and Journal of Transatlantic Studies 8:4 (2010))


“Famine Irish Catholics, Their “Eloquent Indian” Priest, and the “Chinese Question.” in LeAnne Howe and Padraig Kirwin, eds., Famine Pots: The Choctaw–Irish Gift Exchange, 1847–Present. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2020, 179–203.

“US Nation-Building and the Irish-American Novel, 1830-1880,” in  Matthew Campbell,  ed., Irish Literature in Transition: 1830-1880. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 179-196.

“The Famine Irish, the Catholic Church, and the Cultural Dynamics of the American Middle Class,” in  Margúerite Corporaal and Peter Gray, eds. The Great Irish Famine and Social Class: Conflicts, Responsibilities, Representations.  Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019, 257-275.

“Traveling Irishness and the Transnational James Connolly,” in  Margúerite Corporaal and Christina Morin, eds. Traveling Irishness in the Long Nineteenth Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, 119-138.

“Memory and John Mitchel’s Appropriation of the Slave Narrative,” in Marguérite Corporaal and Jason King eds. Irish Global Migration and Memory: Transatlantic Perspectives of Ireland’s Famine Exodus. New York: Routledge, 2016. Reprint of an article that first appeared in 2014 in the journal Atlantic Studies: Global Currents; see Journal Articles below.

The Racial State and the Transatlantic Famine Irish,” in Winifred Fluck, Donald E. Pease & John Carlos Rowe, eds., Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2011, 119-137.

“Laundering Gender: Chinese Men and Irish Women in Late Nineteenth-Century San Francisco,” in Peter D. O’Neill & David Lloyd, The Black and Green Atlantic: Cross-currents of the African and Irish Diasporas Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, 113-130. (Works cited in chapter)

“The Black and Green Atlantic: An Introduction,” co-authored with David Lloyd, in Peter D. O’Neill & David Lloyd, The Black and Green Atlantic: Cross-currents of the African and Irish Diasporas Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, xv-xx.

Journal Articles

“Black and Green Atlantic Crossings in the Famine Era.” Chapter 1 of Famine Irish and the American Racial State, 32-54. Reprinted in the Journal of Transnational American Studies, 8:1 (2017).

atl“Memory and John Mitchel’s Appropriation of the Slave Narrative.” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 11:3 (Fall 2014): 321-343.

“The Atlantic James Connolly.” Internationalist Review of Irish Culture 2 (Spring 2009): 134-152.

“Frederick Douglass and the Irish.” Foilsiú: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Irish Studies 5.1 (Spring 2006): 57-81.


Review of Relocated Memories: the Great Famine in Irish and Diaspora Fiction, 1846-1870. (Marguérite Corporaal, Syracuse, Syracuse UP, 2017) Irish Studies Review 26.2, April 2018) 277-280.

Review of Whose You’re Paddy?: Racial Expectations and the Struggle for Irish American Identity (Jennifer Nugent Duffy, New York: NYUP, 2014) Irish Studies Review. 26.1 (January 2018) 149-150.

Review of Unapproved Routes: Histories of the Irish Border 1922-1972 (Peter Leary, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016) Irish Studies Review. 25.3 (August 2017) 516-517.

Review of Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago (Gillian O’Brien, Chicago: Chicago UP, 2015). Irish Studies Review. 24.2 (May 2016) 233-235.

Review of Rethinking the Irish in the American South: Beyond Rounders and Reelers (Bryan Albin Giemza, ed., Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013). The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 112: 3 (Summer 2014) 518-520.

Review of American Slavery Irish Freedom: Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement For Irish Repeal (Angela F. Murphy, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010). H-CivWar, H-Net Review. December 2010.

Review of Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World (Fionnghuala Sweeney, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007). Journal of American Studies 42.3 (December 2008): 610-611.

Article on the Profession

Teaching Diversity at UGA.” Chalk Talk II, Fran Teague & Peter D. O’Neill, eds. (Athens: U of Georgia Teaching Academy Publication, 2013), 24-25.


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Comparative Literature & Intercultural Studies, University of Georgia

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