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Anglo-Saxons and Attacotti: the racialization of Irishness in Britain between the World Wars

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During the interwar years, theories purporting to show that the people of Ireland were racially distinct from their Anglo-Saxon neighbours underwent a significant revival in Britain. These doctrines, which had featured prominently in nineteenth-century scientific and political discourse, were again employed following the secession of the Irish Free State from the United Kingdom in 1921, both to explain the apparent failure of the British civilizing mission in Ireland and to assuage what many Britons regarded as a national humiliation. Although the discrediting of scientific racism in the 1930s undermined the premises upon which many of these ideas were based, racial hibernophobia was an important component of the post-Great War re-definition of British national identity during a period of economic and political upheaval.
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Keywords: GREAT BRITAIN; HISTORY; IRELAND; NATIONAL IDENTITY; RACE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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