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Lecture | History Brown Bag Seminar

Can migration theory be applied to the Irish migration experience since 1945?

Tuesday 23 January 2018
History Brown Bag Seminars 2017-2018
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room

Today, almost one in five people born in Ireland now live abroad, the highest among all OECD countries. But a similar number of people living in Ireland today were born elsewhere. Ireland is thus simultaneously a country of emigration and of immigration. Various migration theories try to explain movement across borders. Most prominent among these are neoclassical economic models involving push-pull models, historical-structural frameworks that underline the endurance of important colonial and postcolonial links and interdependent periphery-core structures, and those that give more agency to migrants by highlighting the importance of transnational networks. Yet few experts have tried to apply such theories to the Irish migration experience since 1945 even though it is a ripe testing ground for assessing the accuracy of such models.

Neoclassical economic and world systems theories can broadly explain Irish migration patterns yet they are too static to account for significant societal changes and the agency of migrants. A unifying transition theory put forward by Hein de Haas (2010) emphasises that migration is an integral part of broader development processes and I will argue in this presentation that this appears to best fit the Irish case, which was marked by extensive emigration in the 1950s, 1980s and after 2008 and huge immigration from the late 1990s until today. What the Irish case can add to migration theory is that a country’s migration culture can also affect its migration future despite economic development, as can people’s transnational capital; that is, their ability to attain jobs abroad that match their skills. In addition to applying migration theories to the Irish post-war experience, this presentation will also try to highlight similarities and differences with other European states, most notably in southern Europe, and non-European states, such as New Zealand. 

You are very welcome to join this Brown Bag seminar in the conference room of the Huizinga building.

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