From Apes and Thick Micks to the Fighting Irish
Cultural Misappropriation at the University of Notre Dame
Keywords:higher education, college athletics, logos, mascots, cultural imperialism
AbstractDespite the continuing controversy surrounding the use of Native American mascots, little attention is paid to the Fighting Irish mascot at the University of Notre Dame. Although historically founded by a sect of French Catholic priests, the institution has formally used the Fighting Irish moniker for 87 years. Ironically, the team name came just six years after the Irish finally gained independence from Great Britain after hundreds of years of oppression. This paper, using comparative historical analysis, analyzes the history of the Irish in America as well as the University of Notre Dame to better understand whether the Fighting Irish symbolism is a form of cultural imperialism in use at one of America’s premier educational institutions. Drawing on the work of Edward Said on cultural imperialism, the University of Notre Dame licensing and mascot program promotes a dialogue that “others” a national group that has historically faced injustice and mockery.
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