Aisling McKeown, UoA 29, SSHL
On completion of my MA thesis on the subject of Irish national identity in twentieth century fiction (Kingston University 2008), I saw the potential for further research into whether the rapid social and cultural changes taking place in twenty-first century Irish society, partly due to immigration, were being reflected in Irish narrative. My interest in migrancy and otherness stems from the fact that the Irish have experience of being the ‘other’, both within Ireland during the years of colonial rule and outside Ireland, as a consequence of the country’s long tradition of emigration. I was keen to assess, through my research, whether this legacy affects the attitude of the Irish towards contemporary migrants arriving and settling in Ireland. More broadly, my research interests include literary representations of cultural and social environments, diasporic narratives, oral histories and life-writing.
I am currently in the final year of my PhD research in the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster under the supervision of Dr Monica Germana. I also teach a first-year undergraduate module ‘Introduction to Literary Studies’.
- Ireland’s transformation since the late 1990s from a culturally homogeneous nation into a multi-cultural migrant-receiving society raises questions of identity and representation for Irish and migrant people alike
- My research investigates the representation of the migrant experience in contemporary Irish narrative through close textual analysis of a selection of novels, short stories, films and storytelling performance
- The analysis draws on Irish literary and visual tradition and that of the migrant writers’ and filmmakers’ countries of origin. Postcolonial, globalisation and transnational theory underpin the research, reflecting its anthropological and sociological dimensions
- Textual analysis to date reveals the narratives’ realistic representation of the contradictions, confusions and concerns that define Irish attitudes towards migrant communities living in Ireland, whilst reflecting the motivation behind and dislocation inherent within migrant life
- This research project will reveal the impact of migrants on new Irish writing, as producers of and protagonists within texts. It will outline changes to the notion of Irish identity, culture and writing as a consequence of immigration
- Looking ahead, it will provide a comparative basis for future research into migrant writing as migrant communities become more embedded in Irish society, and the Irish-born children of today’s migrants produce their own narratives