Native urban identity
The Story So Far …
The Identity Series explores our common (universal) identity. Ireland is the initial focus because the Series draws its inspiration from Shelter and Shadows by Raymond Keogh here.
However, Ireland is merely a backdrop and helps to illustrate the main duscussion about the meaning of “identity”.
The Series begins with clashing traditions. It may be the accidental collision of potent national symbols (e.g. Irish v. Anzac in article #1 here). Or it may be internal conflicts at the individual level that arise as a result of incompatible inherited cultural memes (article #5).
Messy Cultural Entanglements
The Series acknowledges that we are dealing with messy cultural entanglements—be they at the individual, national or international levels.
The young Irish State simplified the process and opted for a culturally pure nation based on an inflated sense of connectivity of all Irish men and women to Gaelic Ireland. This resulted in an outlandish sense of identity (articles #2 & 3). Shelter and Shadows cautions that it is indeed wise to be skeptical of easy solutions (article #4).
A Potent Force
Articles #6 and #7 deal with the sub-culture out of which Shelter and Shadows arose: The Dublin native middle-class. However, it was not recognised in Irish history, despite the fact that James Joyce was its prime representative in terms of artistic cultural expression (article #8).
The native urban middle-class had deep roots in traditional Gaelic culture (articles #9). And Gaelic Ireland, in turn, was the source of powerful Celtic symbolism, imagery, myths and legends which succeeded in gathering about them the men and women who ignited the Irish independence movement.
In article #10 it was postulated that part of the reason why the Celtic milieu was so potent a force related to the connectivity it evoked between contemporary society and its primordial roots in the unspoiled environment of the Irish landscape.
Could it be that human identity is best understood and defined within pristine biological environments in which primeval societies are embedded? This theory was untested. Articles #11 and #12 explain how the desire to confirm the hypothesis morphed into an expedition to the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
The outcome of the expedition was surprising. It became clear that we cannot arrive at a true definition of identity if any factor—past or present—that contributes to our makeup, is omitted. This prompted Raymond to face the thorny problem of his hybrid identity (articles #13 and #14 here) which led to a more basic question: what is identity? (articles #15 and #16 here). An objective definition of identity is provided in article #17 here. In article #18 personal identity is explored here. #19 examines identity and ethnicity here; #20 looks at race here; #21 deals with culture here
The Coming Articles
The coming articles of the Identity Series examine the consequences of adopting objective definitions of personal identity and communal identity.