Irish migrant identities and community life in Melbourne and Chicago, 1840-1890
Cooper, Sophie Elizabeth
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This thesis examines the influences on Irish identity articulation within Melbourne and Chicago during the nineteenth century. Bringing together ethnicity and religious devotion, this thesis argues that the foundational identities encouraged by religious orders within parish schools and societies were fundamental to the shape of nationalist politics that emerged in each city. While the imperial and republican contexts of Melbourne and Chicago presented specific opportunities and restrictions on Irish cultural and political identity articulation, the ethnic pluralism of the Catholic Church in each city influenced the networks established between Irish migrants across class, occupation, and gender. In turn, the Catholic parish structures of each city altered how Irish identity was articulated at a local and global level. While focusing on Irish Catholic identity, this thesis also examines the establishment of secular and ethnic Irish institutions utilised by middle-class culture brokers within Melbourne and Chicago to promote a civic Irish identity. It explores the ways that Irish migrants interpreted British imperial and American values to encourage diasporic Irish identities shaped by Irish and local contexts. Using comparison, this work identifies similarities between two cities previously dismissed as divergent and transnational links between Ireland, Australia and Chicago. Examining these societies over a fifty-year period allows for the interrogation of identity influencers over numerous generations, addressing the evolving shape of two cities and the Irish communities therein.