Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Howard Lune's "Transnational Nationalism and Collective Identity among the American Irish"

Howard Lune is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the author of Urban Action Networks: HIV/AIDS and Community Organizing in New York City.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Transnational Nationalism and Collective Identity among the American Irish, and reported the following:
I love the page 99 test and have used it many times. In this case, however, it’s half of a good introduction. Page 99 comes in the middle of a chapter discussing the rise of Nativism in the United States in the early to mid-1800s, showing how this impacted the American Irish and altered American Irish organizing. Of the three major themes of the book, this page shows one at work, touches on a second and does not address the third. Overall, that’s not bad for a random page.

The theme that this page (and chapter) most directly speaks to is that the American Irish identity, while strongly grounded in Irish culture, politics, and history, was very much shaped by the American context. The Nativist anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, America-first movement (which appeared to be a mere artifact of that moment, but we now see is not) reoriented the mission of American Irish organizations into a more militant direction. So that is hinted at here. The theme that is only touched on is that my study looks at collective identities through collective organization and collective action. In simple terms, I study groups. Several are mentioned in this one page with indications of how they related. A reader can get a quick sense of how my examination of these events is filtered through the middle-social level this way.

Finally, as the title indicates, the biggest part of the book is the transnational argument. I am trying to show how the organizational and cultural roots of Irish collective identity shaped the American Irish, and how the American Irish in turn reflected this back in support of Irish independence movements. None of that comes up on that page, and relatively little in this chapter. Still, the chapter has some of the most interesting stories in the book.

As for the writing, if you find this page reasonably inviting then you will probably enjoy the book. If not, well, there are some better parts but not way better. It’s a complex case but I try to be clear.
Learn more about Transnational Nationalism and Collective Identity among the American Irish at the Temple University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue