Most colonial, Postcolonial, Post-postcolonial?: Irish Skulls and (K)iwi Bones

Jan Cronin


This essay takes a comparative approach to the continuum between late 1990s debate regarding the representation of the Irish story in postcolonial terms and questions of contemporary Irish self-fashioning. Keri Hulme’s the bone people (1984) is employed as a framework for a series of encounters with Eílís Ní Dhuibhne’s The Dancers Dancing (1999), which highlight the latter as both a manifestation and interrogation of Irish postcoloniality. In so doing, these encounters act as a bi-focal lens, focalizing the concerns of the context of composition of Ní Dhuibhne’s text and also the challenges of the Irish context over a decade on. This essay engages with the palimpsestic layering that characterizes historical and cultural inheritance in late twentieth century and twenty-first century Ireland, attending to questions of materiality and the postcolonial, and the exegetical properties of the latter as a frame for the evolution of Irish experience.


Ireland; New Zealand; postcolonial; Keri Hulme; Eílís Ní Dhuibhne

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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