Net Curtains and Closed Doors: Intimacy, Family, and Public Life in Dublin

Net Curtains and Closed Doors: Intimacy, Family, and Public Life in Dublin

Net Curtains and Closed Doors: Intimacy, Family, and Public Life in Dublin

Net Curtains and Closed Doors: Intimacy, Family, and Public Life in Dublin

Synopsis

It has been argued that the family is a clearly bounded center of love and emotion in the lives of people. It is a center which is separate from more "public" arenas. The Irish family, however, has until recently had neither clear boundaries nor overt emotional nurturance, largely due to English Colonialism and the influences of the Catholic Church upon Irish culture. This book examines the urban Irish family and argues that the contrasts between family and public lives are not as great as is normally assumed.

Excerpt

Anthropology is the art of making the strange familiar and the familiar strange.

Sometime in the mid-1970s, as I was beginning my lifelong fascination with anthropology at age 15, I heard or read this somewhere. It is, by now, a commonplace; most anthropologists have the catch phrase memorized. in this book, I attempt to make the Republic of Ireland--ostensibly a place familiar to many Americans--strange in some ways and familiar in others.

Before I went to Ireland, I believed I knew what Ireland was about. Like almost every American, I have a mixture of nationalities to claim, and as with many Americans, the highest percentage is Irish. (I've met only a few Americans who do not claim some kind of Irish ancestry.) My maternal great-grandmother, Annie Riley, emigrated in the 1850s or 1860s to the United States from (we think) Sligo and married a man, Joseph Kenny, who emigrated from Galway in the early 1850s. Her youngest daughter, my grandmother, Florence Kenny, married a man who was half-Irish and half-Danish (Edward Nelson, changed from "Nielsen" upon his father's arrival in Minnesota). That makes me about . . .

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