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KIND OF MAN ARE YOU?: Beckettian Anthropology, Cultural Authenticity, and Irish Identity

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image of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

Situating Beckett's writing in relation to anthropological accounts of Ireland, this article examines how his postcolonial parody of ethnographic discourse serves to critique the notion of cultural authenticity. Since the late nineteenth-century anthropological representations, from A.C. Haddon's studies for The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland to Conrad Arensberg's ethnographies of western Ireland, had incorporated native culture into a fundamentally primitivist perspective. In , however, Beckett revises this perspective to offer overtly constructed images of authentic Irishness, which refuse the hegemonic modes of cultural identification and epistemological mastery implicit in more conventional anthropological representations of Ireland.


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