My forthcoming book, Unapproved routes: histories of the Irish border, 1922-72 will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016.
The delineation and emergence of the Irish border during the first half of the 1920s radically reshaped political and social realities across the entire island. As well as structuring the territorial extent and with it the character of both Irish polities, for many, the border either reinforced, or redefined and cut across established notions of nation, state, and empire. For those on or near the border partition was also an intimate and personal occurrence – profoundly implicated in everyday life. Otherwise mundane activities such as shopping, visiting family, or travelling to church were thus complicated by customs restrictions, security policies, and even questions of nationhood and identity.
Influenced by microhistorical and anthropological approaches, my book uses a series of discrete ‘histories’ – including of smuggling, poaching, cockfighting, and local conflicts over cross-border roads – to explore how the border was experienced and incorporated into people’s lives. I argue that the lived experience of the border; the opportunities and restrictions it produced and the responses it invoked; can be seen as a thread, linking the grand topographies of national and international history directly to the most seemingly humdrum aspects of daily living.
I am currently working on the history of a small Irish house.