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"Emigrants in the traditional sense”? – Irishness in England, contemporary migration, and collective memory of the 1950s

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journal contribution
posted on 20.11.2015, 13:26 by Marc Scully
Invocations of the experiences of previous generations of Irish emigrants have been frequent in discussions of the current wave of Irish emigration. This paper considers the mediating effects of viewing contemporary migration through the prism of past migrations. In particular, it is argued that the ‘postmemory’ of 1950s emigration from Ireland, and the experiences of Irish migrants in English cities, forms a transnational dominant narrative, against which the experiences of contemporary migrants are rhetorically arranged. Drawing on interview and focus group extracts from a study of Irish ‘authenticity’ in England, the paper demonstrates how subsequent generations of migrants, and those of Irish descent construct a collective memory of the 1950s experience. It also discusses how this narrative appears in Irish governmental discourses as a conveniently usable past, that seeks to emphasise the agency of contemporary migrants, and in so doing alleviate state responsibility for emigration.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Irish Journal of Sociology

Volume

23

Issue

2

Pages

133 - 148

Citation

SCULLY, M.D., 2015. "Emigrants in the traditional sense”? – Irishness in England, contemporary migration, and collective memory of the 1950s. Irish Journal of Sociology, 23 (2), pp. 133 - 148.

Publisher

Sage / © Irish Journal of Sociology

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2015

Notes

This paper was accepted for publication in the Irish Journal of Sociology. The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7227/IJS.23.2.9

ISSN

0791-6035

Language

en