"Jessica Scarlata’s Rethinking Occupied Ireland puts the body back into the Irish body politic, reconnecting discourses of gender and nation, private and public spheres, often partitioned in contemporary debates on Irish film and visual culture. Sharing James Joyce’s belief that Ireland fretted in the shadow of two empires, Scarlata examines how the carceral regimes of British rule in Northern Ireland, and the Catholic Church in the Irish state, encased bodies as well as minds in a permanent state of emergency. Written with considerable verve and acumen, this wide-ranging study makes an incisive contribution to film theory and history, gender studies, postcolonialism and Irish Studies."—Luke Gibbons, coauthor of Cinema and Ireland
"Irish film studies is enriched by Scarlata’s trenchant account which critically parses both well-known and obscure films to elucidate their complex gender politics."—Diane Negra, University College Dublin
Imprisonment is a central trope of Irish nationalism, often deployed to portray the injustice of an Ireland occupied by foreign rule. Irish nationalism celebrates people jailed for resistance to British forces. While such a celebratory history resists colonialist images of Irish brutality, it also generates nationalist amnesia and nostalgia. Rethinking Occupied Ireland takes this history as its point of departure, arguing that the potent visual language generated to represent national heroes facilitates a narrow conceptualization of “occupation” and “resistance.” Irish cinema has long offered a double critique—against both colonialist and nationalist historiography. Through a study of incarceration in film, Scarlata critiques state-of-emergency discourses and reveals the global relevance of Irish history to questions of terrorism, security, and sexual and gender transgression in an ever-lengthening list of crimes against the nation.
The films included in this book, ranging from 1980 to 2010, explore Irish history from the perspective of those marginalized within or ejected from Irish and British national narratives, providing an ideal occasion to interrogate the legacy of colonialism and post/anticolonial nationalism. Examining Ireland’s past in relation to its present, these films become a mode of postcolonial historiography, and, Scarlata argues, they are an important component in the reevaluation of what constitutes political cinema and political resistance.
Jessica Scarlata is associate professor in the English Department at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
6 x 9, 304 pages, 10 black and white illustrations