"Auld Sod" and the New Turf: Entertainment, Nationalism, and Identity in the Irish Traditional Music Community of Chicago, 1868--1999

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ProQuest, 2007 - 352 pages
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The dissertation "'Auld Sod' and New Turf: Entertainment, Nationalism and Identity in the Irish Traditional Music Community of Chicago, 1868-1999" examines why Irish immigrants to Chicago and their descendants chose to persist in the home country cultural art of traditional music despite leaving Ireland for the United States. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Irish traditional musicians continued to perform their music in Chicago to entertain themselves with a familiar home country art, as an assertion of Irish cultural nationalism, and to incorporate Irish traditional music into the construction of Irish-American identity. Confronted, however, with the rejection of traditional music by the vast majority of Irish Chicago, traditional musicians retreated into their own community. As the twentieth century wore on, Chicago's musicians abandoned their efforts to incorporate traditional music into the construction of Irish-American identity but they continued to perform the music for their own entertainment (as well as that of a small group of observers and supporters) and to maintain their own personal connection with Irish ancestors and relatives. Despite the enthusiastic assimilation of a majority of Irish-Americans, and their adoption of an invented Irish-American identity, Irish traditional musicians in Chicago were part of a minority within their ethnic group, resisting assimilation and the construction of a new invented American ethnic identity devoid of home country content.

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