Two Diasporic Moments in Irish Emigration History: The Famine Generation and the Contemporary Era
In some usages “diaspora” refers to a social process (relocation or migration) and in others to a social entity (a migrant group or ethnic group). Both approaches require scholars to define diaspora, but the criteria often seem arbitrary. Rather than posing a timeless question (“What is a diaspora?”), this article examines diaspora as an idea that people use to interpret the world migration creates. Diaspora in this sense reached its peak historical significance for Ireland in two distinct periods, but for quite different reasons: the era of the Great Famine, when mass emigration gave rise to a powerful transnational sense of exile; and the era since the 1980s, when changes in the academy, popular culture, communications, and especially government policy produced a new sense of connectedness among the global Irish.