Colonial Oppression, Gender, and Women in the Irish Diaspora


Radosh, Polly. 2009. “Colonial Oppression, Gender, and Women in the Irish Diaspora.” Journal of Historical Sociology 22 (2): 269–89.

Author: Polly Radosh


This paper explores the relationship between colonial oppression in pre-famine Ireland and the development of gender patterns that fostered uncommon social and familial roles for women. In post-famine Ireland women's traditional family roles illustrate cultural empowerment that combined with the pull factors of employment opportunities to spawn higher female than male emigration at the same time that patriarchal oppression restricted women's full social participation in Ireland and limited their authority to specific domains of family life. Cultural changes in post-famine Ireland, including increased power for the Catholic Church, mothers' socialization of children to the moral teachings of the Church, delayed marriage, and permanent celibacy among large segments of the population, intersected to produce unique patterns of migration. For women who immigrated to the United States, the cultural background of colonial oppression instilled values that respected independence and employment. In the case of the Irish, colonial oppression initiated gender patterns that pushed women to greater familial power and occupational independence than was typical of other ethnic groups.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Livelihoods, Nationalism, Religion Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2009

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