Reflections on the medieval and early modern insular identities

Сергей Егорович Федоров, Феликс Евгеньевич Левин

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The article reflects on the monograph by Sparky Booker Cultural exchange and identity in late medieval Ireland: The English and the Irish of the four obedient shires (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018) which offers a revised perspective on the issue of assimilation and acculturation in late medieval Ireland on the basis of the material of the four obedient shires: Dublin, Meath, Louth, and Kildare. The scholar presents a complex and multi-faceted image of interethnic interplay in the region distinguishing between cultural and legal dimensions. She demonstrates that cultural practices were not the main resource of identity in the late medieval Ireland in which political allegiance and descent were prioritized. She highlights two aspects: the discursive level and the level of everyday interaction. Despite the obvious merits of the book, the material presented there requires more theoretical consideration of the issue of medieval identities. The authors of the article argue that the situation of interethnic interplay in the four obedient shires described by Booker could have been suitable for the emergence of consensual identity. Having coined this term, the authors define it as the type of identity which originates in the situation of interethnic interplay; entails intercultural switching; and has supragentile character, i.e., not insisting on common descent. The discourse of consensual identity did not emerge in the four shires during the period under consideration because of the absence of common subjecthood of the English and the Irish as well as prevalence of gentilism but its full potential was realized during the Early Stuarts.

Scopus subject areas

  • History


  • Acculturation
  • Assimilation
  • Consensual identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Four obedient shires
  • Ireland
  • Medieval identity


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