J. Yan

J. H. Yan (PhD in History, 2022) ‘Contentious Routes: Ireland Questions, Radical Political Articulations and Settler Ambivalence in (White) Australia, c1909–23′

This thesis is a transnational history of the ‘Ireland Question’ in the imperial and ethico-political imaginary of radical and labour movements in (‘White’) Australia during the ‘Irish revolutionary period’, broadly conceived. It traces the contestation of ‘Ireland’ as a political signifier, with attention to its constitutive differences, transnational circuitries, utopian investments, relations of recognition and desire, and articulatory practices. Where previous studies of Irish nationalisms in Australia have deployed ‘the nation’ as a consensualist category of analysis, this study reinterprets the ‘Ireland Question’ in postnational terms as contentious and within routes. Combining attention to settler-colonial difference with the discursive articulation of political forms, it situates the ‘Ireland Question’ firstly in relation to the political as a signifier of settler ambivalence, and secondly to politics as a social movement. Drawing on archival research in Australia, Ireland and Britain, it analyses personal papers, letters, political periodicals, state surveillance records, political ephemera and pamphlets.

Beyond the ‘Ireland Question’ in the imperial labour movement, this study affords serious attention to historical dimensions at the hybrid boundaries of ‘long-distance nationalism’ including political travel performances in Ireland, non-nationalist transnational political networks ranging from feminist to socialist connections, and non-Irish political identification with ‘Ireland.’ It proposes that this unstable play of meanings comprised a heterogeneity of political positions and networks whose convergence during the conjuncture of 1916–1921 was both contingent and politically contested: one that signified in excess of either Australian nationalist historical teleologies or a coherent ‘transnational Irish revolution.’

Supervisors: Professor Sean Scalmer, Professor Joy Damousi