Masculinity and Power

Winner of the James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books in History and Social Sciences, American Conference for Irish Studies, 2016



My first book is published by Palgrave Macmillan as part of their Genders and Sexualities in History series. This is a comparative study of masculinity and white racial identity in Irish nationalism and Zionism and draws on English-, Irish-, and Hebrew-language archival sources.   This book traces how male Irish nationalists sought to remake themselves as a proudly Gaelic-speaking race, rooted both in their national past as well as in the spaces and agricultural soil of Ireland. On the one hand, this was an attempt to refute contemporary British colonial notions that they were somehow a racially inferior or uncomfortably hybridised people. On the other hand, this is also presented in the light of the general history of European nationalism; nationalist movements across Europe often crafted romanticised images of the nation’s past and present and Irish nationalism was thus simultaneously European and postcolonial. It is this that makes Irish nationalism similar to Zionism, a movement that sought to create a more idealized image of the Jewish past that would disprove contemporary anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Figure 5.2 - CZA KRA13 - To the Galilee.jpg

To the Galilee!, Jewish National Fund Poster

“This comparative analysis of Irish nationalism and Zionism has a compelling narrative drive. In its treatment of territory, language and state ethos, an interpretative audacity on questions of gender is chastened only by sound scholarly scruple and a tremendous archival rigour. The work is done on that difficult but challenging borderland between cultural and historical studies. It will prompt many exponents of colonial and postcolonial theory to review many of their assumptions.”

– Declan Kiberd, author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation

“Beatty provides an innovative analysis of masculinized nationalism in Ireland. By unpacking key Irish case studies he demonstrates how the circulation of “muscular” ideals constructed a “proper” political manhood in Ireland. His approach—which includes a thoughtful comparison with Zionism—serves as a model for future historical studies of manhood and nation.”

– Sikata Banerjee, author of Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004

NLI LO P116 - De Valera as Woman

De Valera as an Ancient Irish Woman, Sinn Féin Electoral Poster, 1917

Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism was awarded the 2016 Prize for Best Book on History and Social Sciences by the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS).

The ACIS Committee’s Commendation:

“Beginning with de Valera’s oft-cited 1943 St. Patrick’s Day speech and complicating its enduring legacy of valorizing “vigorous masculinity and submissive femininity,” Beatty offers a continuum of gradually tightening ideals around masculinity-as-nationhood. Building on a core chapter about the events of 1916-1923, the book recognizes the ways in which politics, nationhood, and early 20th century wartime movements are gendered in country-specific ways. Focusing on the Irish male body in both the military and sports; issues of space, power, and masculinity; connections between the Gaelic League and masculinity; and the importance of land possession, Beatty also draws from works on Zionism and nationalism elsewhere. Committee members noted that it is rare indeed to see something so theoretical in Irish historiography, and the author’s approach to masculinity and to gender constructions is new and refreshingly so. In sum, it is truly a bold, innovative study that will inspire much-needed new research.”

This book is based on my doctoral dissertation, which won the 2014 Adele Dalsimer Distinguished Dissertations Prize, also from the American Conference for Irish Studies.