A Consciousness of Streets: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Partition

Published: May 1, 2016
political modernity nation-state Northern Ireland nationalism partition political crisis
Maureen E. Ruprecht Fadem

This largely speculative review historicises the current era of ‘Springs’ through the lens of partition. I offer a critique of political modernity and the modern nation-state through analysis of the turn to border politics in colonial conquests, decolonisation efforts, Cold War politics and other instances of international relations across the long twentieth century. The pervasiveness of such plans across late modernity marks the beginning of the end of the nation as a single, reifiable, imaginable structure. With Ireland as exemplar, I posit national dividedness —a generally underestimated paradigm shaping our time— as spurring a decline in state authority and a new, radical “consciousness of streets.” Together with other defining political structures, it participates in transforming the postmodern map of nation into a conflicted network, an imagined community as metropolitan circuit. I take recourse to theories of partition and nation and work by geographers, historians and postcolonial theorists including Joseph Cleary, Benedict Anderson, Monica Duffy Toft, Étienne Balibar and Michel Foucault.

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Author Biography
Maureen E. Ruprecht Fadem, The City University of New York / Kingsborough
Maureen E. Ruprecht Fadem is Assistant Professor of English at The City University of New York / Kingsborough. Her first book, The Literature of Northern Ireland: Spectral Borderlands was published by Palgrave Macmillan (2015). The chapter "The Politics of Home and Trauma in Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory" was included in Home: Concepts, Constructions and Contexts (WVT, 2015) and "Drawing the Border, Queering the Nation: Nation Trouble in Breakfast on Pluto and The Crying Game" was published in Gender Forum(2016). Maureen's second monograph, The Poetry of Medbh McGuckian: Iterations of Silence, is in peer review with Palgrave Macmillan and she's writing a new article, on object poetics and the spectre of reparations in Toni Morris
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