This study offers an analysis of the significance of boyhood as a site of investmentfor masculinity in the context of Irish separatist nationalism from1900 tothe Easter Rising of 1916. Both imperialism and anti-imperialism were linkedby an ethos of militarism, as evidenced by commonalities in the apparently antitheticalFianna Eireann (the Irish nationalist boy scouts) and their equivalent theBaden-Powell Boy Scouts. What both organisations shared, it is argued, was anew emphasis on boy culture as the means to reformulate both masculinity andnationalism. Gender is itself a performative act that is articulated through bodilydisplay. Boy culture afforded a space for these acts to be played out throughperformance in popular culture. The traces of these stylised displays are embeddedin photographs of boys’ groups. Far from being unmediated records of historicalfact, the evidential traces to be found in these images point to thefluidity of masculinity and its production through visible bodily display. Photographyprovides an accessible means for transmission, articulation andnegotiation of cultural norms; rebuilding the context in which these photographswere produced affords a means to gain a better understanding of how genderedidentities are made.
- boy culture
- Ireland 1916