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Mass migration is nothing new. Archaeological and linguistic evidence show that people have moved across large distances in search of new opportunities for themselves and their families since the earliest times. One of the most statistically dramatic migrations was the mass departure from Europe during the nineteenth century. While Europeans departed across the globe in search of better lives, the overwhelming movement was across the Atlantic to North America. European emigrants included around 800,000 Norwegians who headed West from a country whose population was scarcely more than that at the start of the period in question. While the statistics are indeed dramatic, they conceal the fact that each emigration story was an individual one. But how can historians recapture and present those individual stories?

This Westminster Talk reports on a research project which used on-line virtual world technology to explore and present this history. As well as telling the story of Norwegian migration through images and via the virtual world, Professor Linn will also illustrate it musically using the Regent Street Cinema organ.

This is a talk for anyone interested in migration, family history, alternative historical methods and in seeking to understand the lived realities behind migration statistics.

Professor Andrew Linn is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Before joining Westminster in February 2016, he was Professor of the History of Linguistics at the University of Sheffield between 2013–16.

Andrew studied English and Linguistics at Cambridge University, where he was also organ scholar at Emmanuel College. His PhD research was on the standardisation of the Norwegian language following Norway’s independence from Denmark in 1814. This work has led to several lines of research: the history of linguistics; language policy and planning; and Norwegian history. He has received research funding from bodies including the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Swedish Academy. His current research includes a book for Cambridge University Press on the 19th-century Reform Movement in Linguistics and Language Policy and Planning in higher education.

He is a Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and president of the British Society for the History of Linguistics. He also possesses diplomas in organ performance and gives regular organ concerts when his University duties and obsession with Sheffield United Football Club allow.

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