Niall Whelehan

Jul 13, 2022

Changing Land

Diaspora Activism and the Irish Land War

New York University Press 2021

Niall Whelehan is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Strathclyde, where he focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and themes of migration, political violence, nationalism and radicalism, mainly relating to Ireland and the Irish diapsora.

In this interview he discusses his new book Changing Land: Diaspora Activism and the Irish Land War (NYU Press, 2021), which examines radical networks in Ireland and Irish migrant communities in Scotland, England, the United States and Argentina, during the Land War of 1879-1882

The Irish Land War represented a turning point in modern Irish history, a social revolution that was part of a broader ideological moment when established ideas of property and land ownership were fundamentally challenged. The Land War was striking in its internationalism, and was spurred by links between different emigrant locations and an awareness of how the Land League’s demands to lower rents, end evictions, and abolish “landlordism” in Ireland connected with wider radical and reform causes. Changing Land offers a new and original study of Irish emigrants’ activism in the United States, Argentina, Scotland, and England and their multifaceted relationships with Ireland. Niall Whelehan brings unfamiliar figures to the surface and recovers the voices of women and men who have been on the margins of, or entirely missing from, existing accounts. Retracing their transnational lives reveals new layers of radical circuitry between Ireland and disparate international locations, and demonstrates how the land movement overlapped with different types of oppositional politics from moderate reform to feminism to revolutionary anarchism. By including Argentina, which was home to the largest Irish community outside the English-speaking world, this book addresses the neglect of developments in non-Anglophone places in studies of the “Irish world.” Changing Land presents a powerful addition to our understanding of the history of modern Ireland and the Irish diaspora, migration, and the history of transnational radicalism.

Changing Land is published by New York University Press, as part of their Glucksman Irish Diaspora Series.

Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh.

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