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    Mothers, maidens, and the myth of origins in the Irish constitution

    Hanafin, Patrick and Collins, B. (2001) Mothers, maidens, and the myth of origins in the Irish constitution. Law and Critique 12 (1), pp. 53-73. ISSN 0957-8536.

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    This article examines the ''hidden'' ideological appeal which the 1937 Irish Constitution attempted to make by the invocation of the rural ideal, a hybrid of Irish nationalism, Catholicism and, most importantly, Gaelic romanticism. In this move, the historical legitimacy of the new state could be defined through the constitution by an appropriation of diverse symbols from an imagined past, a golden age of Gaelic unity and moral certainties. Particular attention will be paid to the image of woman as a representation of the nation in the 1937 Constitution, and to the context of Irish nationalist discourse generally, where she repeatedly appears in the archetypal forms of either mother or virgin. The predominance of the image of woman as mother in the Constitution, in contrast to her appearance in pre-independence nationalist discourse (where she regularly figured as a combination of mother, helpless maiden, seductress and destroyer) will be examined in terms of the Lacanian themes of Lack and jouissance (or enjoyment). This cultural (and legal) shift will be examined in terms of the renunciation of enjoyment inherent in this new national imagery, and in relation to the redemptive potential of the image of woman as mother; themes which appear significant in relation to post-colonial political formations generally, and to post-independence Irish political discourse in particular.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Law School
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2019 13:54
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:48


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