Countable man: From the Great Famine to Modernism
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Countable Man: From the Great Famine to Modernism argues that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century letters and literature in Ireland reveal the development of a rhetorical violence. The intensification of the quest for objective knowledge in this period caused states to rethink their methods of colonial control. Britain, for example, incorporated Ireland as a part of its kingdom through a series of counts: the Irish population was interpolated through numbers addressing gender, income, religion, and geography. As a result, the effects of British control in the Irish colony were felt exclusively through the mediation of algebraic figures. During the Great Famine, rather than providing immediate aid, the British called for ever more intensive counts: of the dead, hungry, fed, Catholic, and Protestant. The famine was severely exacerbated through this statistical compilation. To this day, numbers provide a means of avoiding humanitarian effort through the assumed necessity of accumulating knowledge before acting. "Countable Man" explores how this form of violence became an inherent part of political action.