‘We Will Have Equality and Liberty in Ireland’: The Contested Geographies of Irish Democratic Political Cultures in the 1790s

David Featherstone


This paper explores the contested geographies of Irish democratic political cultures in the 1790s. It positions Irish democratic political cultures in relation to Atlantic flows and circulations of radical ideas and political experience. It argues that this can foreground forms of subaltern agency and identity that have frequently been marginalized in different traditions of Irish historiography. The paper develops these arguments through a discussion of the relations of the United Irishmen to debates on slavery and anti-slavery. Through exploring the influence of the ex-slave and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano on these debates it foregrounds the relations between the United Irishmen and the blackAtlantic. The paper examines the limits of some of the United Irishmen’s democratic politics. It argues that the articulations of liberty and equality by Irish sailors in mutinies in the late 1790s dislocated some of the narrow notions of democratic community and politics associated with the United Irishmen.


Atlantic Subaltern Irish Antagonism

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