Seamas O Siochain is a former Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at NUI Maynooth.
"Social Thought on Ireland in the Nineteenth Century" is a contribution to the intellectual history of Ireland and to the history of the human sciences. It seeks to document a selected yet systematic set of views on Ireland as 'Other' during the nineteenth century. Of its ten chapters, six comprise the views on Ireland (social, cultural and political) of significant thinkers from outside the island. The selected thinkers are: Gustave de Beaumont (1802-66), friend of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59); John Stuart Mill (1806-73); Harriet Martineau (1802-76); Sir Henry Maine (1822-88); Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95); James Anthony Froude (1818-94). In addition, the two significant themes of Celticism and Race, constructs through which the Irish were frequently viewed, will also be included; under these headings, attention will be given to the thought of Matthew Arnold and Robert Knox. All of this is accompanied by a historical introduction and a concluding afterword by Peter Gray. The contributors to the project have been chosen for their expertise in their respective topics and represent a range of academic disciplines.All of the topics (with the exception of that on Harriet Martineau) were presented as papers at a conference held under the auspices of the Anthropological Association of Ireland in Headfort House, Kells, Co. Meath, on Friday-Saturday, 18-19 March 2005.
- Ireland's Nineteenth Century, Vincent Comerford
Gustave de Beaumont
- Ireland's Alexis de Tocqueville, Tom Garvin and Andreas Hess
John Stuart Mill and Ireland, Graham Finlay
Harriet Martineau and Ireland, Brian Conway and Michael R. Hill
Sir Henry Maine and the Survival of the Fittest, Seamas O Siochain
The Irish Question in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Writings on Capitalism and Empire, Chandana Mathur and Dermot Dix
- The Metaphysical Unionism of James Anthony Froude, Ciaran Brady
Race Theory and the Irish, Peter J. Bowler
- Macpherson, Matthew Arnold and Ireland, George J. Watson
Afterword by Peter Gray
'This is an interesting, even a pioneering, book that examines the intellectual attitude towards Ireland of people from outside the country during the century when social morality came to grips with the poor and ill-considered. It is an attempt to explore the concept of Ireland as the ‘other’ in the social, cultural and political spheres and how ideas of race and Celticism influenced ideas in Ireland ... raise[s] key issues about attitudes to Ireland and their influence on both politics and policy.'
'The thinkers, writers and commentators whose outsiders assessments of the condition of Ireland are addressed in Social Thought on Ireland in the Nineteenth Century variously addressed a period of seismic, political and economic change. In an adroit closing synthesis, Peter grey notes that they wrote as outsiders about the Irish as others. Some wrote as friends of Ireland, some as defenders of the status quo. They presented either environmentist or cultural essentialist explanations of Irish social problems and sometimes conflated both. ... Brady’s chapter on Froude’s crusade against Irish home rule is by far the best written in this book.’'
Studies Issue 394, vol 99
'many of the most salient points in this interesting collection relate to the influence of the theorists' work'
English Historical Review
'It is perhaps significant that it took an anthropologist to address the question of social thought in Ireland, although this book is truly interdisciplinary in its contributors, who comprise six historians, three sociologists, two anthropologists and two political scientists, even if the distinctions between disciplines are sometimes more a question of approach than of subject matter. ... There are, as one might expect, profound divergences in the prescriptions for Ireland advocated by these thinkers.
This is a thought-provoking book and a most useful and informative guide to the range of perceptions of Ireland in the nineteenth century.'
Irish Literary Supplement