“The Lost Apostrophe”?: Race, the roots journey and the “Rose of Tralee” pageant
Irish Studies Review
Taylor & Francis (Routledge) for British Association for Irish Studies
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 6 June 2019 in compliance with publisher policy
Building on recent scholarship on discourses of race in twentieth-century and contemporary Ireland, this article examines the racialised nature of the “roots journey”, in which subjects of Irish descent–typically white Irish Americans–travel back to Ireland to trace their roots. Outlining arguments that have emphasised both the reactionary and radical potential of the practices of genealogy and the search for roots, the article focuses on recent developments in the Rose of Tralee contest, an annual beauty pageant in which women of Irish descent compete for the title “Rose of Tralee”. Noting that three winners since 1998 (and several other competitors since 1994) have been of mixed race ancestry, and emphasising the subsequent roots journeys undertaken by two of these winners to the Philippines and India, respectively, the article questions whether these roots journey, taking non-white subjects of Irish descent out of Ireland rather than into it, may offer the potential of decoupling “Irishness” and “whiteness” in radical new ways.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 26 (1), pp. 38 - 54