Part I Strands and Connections in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History 1
Part I Strands and Connections in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History John Belchem Patterns of Mobility: Irish and Polish Migration in Comparative Historical Perspective Given the extent and pace of recent developments, it is appropriate to con- sider how the concepts, methods and models which informed the Bochum conference of October 1999 on Irish and Polish migration in comparative perspective have withstood the test of time1 – not least, the subsequent explosion of diaspora studies and the assertion of a completely ‘new face’ of East–West ‘shuttle’ or ‘commuter’ migration following recent enlarge- ment of the European Union in 2004 and 2007. It has yet to be seen how the onset of recession (and the demise of the Celtic tiger) will af fect such mobility f lows. Studied in isolation, migrant groups tend to remain ‘apart’, portrayed by historians either as ‘others’ or as ‘exceptional’. The purpose of the con- ference in Bochum was to interrogate such judgements, to move beyond particularistic (often self-referential and celebratory) narratives of the transformation and adjustment from ‘immigrant’ to ‘ethnic’. To facilitate comparative analysis (in what Nancy Green has described as linear, con- vergent and divergent form), two European groups were chosen – one from the West, one from the East – who (helpfully) seemed to display a number of surface similarities.2 Situated on opposite peripheries of indus- 1 John Belchem and Klaus Tenfelde (eds), Irish and Polish Migration in Comparative Perspective (Essen: Klartext, 2003). 2 Nancy L. Green, ‘The comparative method and poststructural structuralism: new perspectives for...
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