‘Generation Emigration’: the politics of (trans)national social reproduction in twenty-first-century Ireland

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Placing social reproduction at the heart of the experience of migration, this article attempts to move beyond regulatory discourses of emigration as tragedy, lifestyle choice or ‘the Skype generation’. Following a review of feminist literature on social reproduction, the article returns to research with Irish women migrants and non-migrants in the 1990s to demonstrate how technologically mediated ‘time-space compression’ and its promise of transnational proximity actually gave rise to the experience of gendered ‘time-space expansion’. The Irish Times‘ ‘Generation Emigration’ (GE) project is then introduced as a site in which similar gendered dynamics emerge as contemporary technologically mediated connections between emigrants and the homeland are celebrated through a compensatory (trans)nationalist discourse that competes with but also compensates for framings of emigration as national tragedy. The article suggests that discourses of emigration as tragedy, lifestyle choice, or new globalised practice serve to bring emigration into being in circumscribed ways and to produce emigrants as particular kinds of ‘recognisable’ subjects. It asks how the work of social reproduction in the context of emigration might be posed anew in ways that challenge dominant assumptions regarding the location and composition of the population to be reproduced. By moving beyond these regulatory discourses of emigration, and by emphasising the dynamics of technologically mediated transnational social reproduction, the article identifies the racialised heteronormative assumptions that intersect with national and global projects of economic production and social reproduction to produce uneven gendered effects.

Source:  Irish Studies Review Volume 21, Issue 1, 2013 – Special Issue: New Perspectives on Women and the Irish Diaspora

DOI: 10.1080/09670882.2012.759707

Author(s):Breda Gray
Publisher:Taylor & Francis Online
Publication Date:14 Mar 2013
Geographic Focus:Ireland
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