The ties that bind: Irish homes and post-war emigration to North London

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Browne, Siobhán Marie
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University College Cork
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This thesis focuses on the practices within and between homes within the diaspora space of post-Second-World-War migration from Ireland to North London. As conceived by cultural theorist Avtar Brah, diaspora space is a conceptual space that encompasses the sending and host societies and the people who migrate and “stay put”. This thesis concentrates on a particular element of Irish diaspora space of the period by entering through the doors of Irish homes of the past, both in Ireland and North London. These homes are investigated primarily through the oral testimonies of thirty-four witnesses. By exploring their histories, practices, and daily routines, it is examined how the flow of people, objects and ideas between these post-war transnational homes maintained continuity and brought about incremental change to the practices and identities of those who inhabited them. Anthropologist Daniel Miller notes that most of what matters to people happens behind the closed doors of the place they call home. The habits of everyday life are one realm through which we can gain an understanding of culture, and Miller argues that culture is best understood by examining practices. Home is a context filled with shared norms, values, and practices of everyday life. In light of historical and social scientific thinking on migration and diaspora space, these homes were also the site of shared and contested memories, histories, and multi-vocal identities. They were also sites of interconnection, in this case, between Ireland and North London. In this thesis, words like leaving, going back, space, trickle, movement, flow, bridge, settling, and anchor describe the processes at play within and between the homes in this diaspora space. The practices, ideas, and memories that were transported and took root within this conceptual (diaspora) space can be identified as transhistorical, and transnational. The homes within this conceptual space have provided a fertile ground for research into specific migrant and diasporic experiences. Through exploring the minutiae of daily experiences and practices of those within these homes of post-war Ireland and North London, themes including gender, domestic labour, respectability, social class, poverty, shame, empowerment, personal agency, family obligation and reciprocity have emerged.
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Diaspora space , Transnational , Post-war migration from Ireland to Britain , Homes , Material culture , Practices , Ethnography
Browne, S. M. 2022. The ties that bind: Irish homes and post-war emigration to North London. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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