This introductory chapter argues that mid-nineteenth-century Irish migrants mainly felt threatened by the notion that New World countries such as the United States and Australia were Anglo-Saxon nations with no room for Catholic Celts. Unwilling to renounce their Celtic self-image and “become Saxon,” however, the Irish developed a diasporic identity that the author calls “global nationalism.” Constantly adapting to the practical exigencies of given times and places—by vacillating between ethnic solidarity and civic pluralism—global nationalism portrayed the Irish as an international community capable of simultaneous loyalty to their old and new worlds. This was a complicated discourse often marked by paradox and contradiction, yet by laying claim to this multivalent identity, the Irish joined other migrant groups in expanding the modern parameters of citizenship and mobility.
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