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Performing identities: music and dance in the Irishcommunities of Coventry and Liverpool

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This article will examine how British-born second- and third-generation Irish people use Irish music and dance in the production of an Irish cultural identity. The article draws on research undertaken with members of the Irish communities in the English cities of Coventry and Liverpool. The research was conducted with music and dance practitioners in Liverpool who strongly identify as Irish and also with schoolchildren in Coventry whose parents or grandparents were born in Ireland. The paper first explores the comments of the Liverpool respondents and points to how music and dance can offer a space in which different generations can mark out their affiliation or embody their Irishness. Secondly, the paper considers interview work with schoolchildren in Coventry, concentrating on their responses as listeners to Irish traditional music. Their comments point to the capacity of this music to resonate with multiple, even conflicting, productions of Irishness. The comments of all the respondents raise key debates about authenticity and the construction of identity.
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Keywords: Irish community; Palabras claves: comunidad irlandesa; autenticidad; authenticity; authenticité; baile; communauté irlandaise; dance; danse; ethnicity; ethnicité; etnicidad; identidad; identity; identité; music; musique; música

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Music, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZT, UK

Publication date: 2005-08-01

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