After discussions on Twitter and at a number of conferences over the last year or so, it seems like there needs to be a concerted effort to bring scholars of Irish diaspora histories together. As I mentioned on Twitter, this is not to undermine the brilliant work of national Irish Studies organisations, nor to overlap with methodology-based associations. Instead, it’s an attempt to bring the histories of the Irish diaspora together, across geographic, chronological, and methodological boundaries (many of which are artificial and are crossed in edited collections and collegial relationships anyway).
It’s been suggested that a website would be useful – as a way of highlighting the work being done on the Irish diaspora, particularly in departments and areas where the emphasis is on the history of the Irish in Ireland. It is envisaged that the website will collect bibliographical information, reviews on recent books or methodological discussions, hints on where scholars might find new archival opportunities (after all, many of us have to travel long distances to carry out research so having a bit of a head start would be incredibly useful). Most of all, this website would aim to bring scholars and histories together, raising awareness of the work that is being done in different areas, and encouraging engagement with the history of the Irish diaspora.
Before a website goes live (I have created one just to reserve the spot!), we obviously need content. Therefore, if you would like to contribute either a short piece (c.1000 words) on your research, a review of a conference you have recently attended related to Irish diaspora history, or to publicise news or an event, please get in touch. Similarly, it would be brilliant to bring together a working group of scholars who would work together to curate the website and content, and bring a diverse range of ideas to this endeavour (future network?) If you would like to be involved, please DM me on Twitter (@SophcoCooper) or email on email@example.com
In the meantime, I have created a list of Irish diaspora history scholars on Twitter – you find more excellent people to follow here and again, get in touch if you would like to be added to the list. The added advantage of a website is that it is more inclusive of those who don’t use social media, therefore please spread the word to those who might not see this online. You might also like to read the paper that I presented to the Irish Historical Society on why the future of Irish history is to be found in and of the diaspora – even if it’s just to disagree with it!