‘Settling Back’? A Biographical and Life-Course Perspective on Ireland’s Recent Return Migration

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This paper uses a biographical and life-course perspective to explore some of the key narratives of return among return migrants to Ireland, focusing in particular on the themes of family, child-rearing, relationship breakdown and ‘settling down’. The ways in which return migrants use the concept of life-course transitions in order to make sense of and narrate their migration stories is explored. I argue that their narratives reflect a normative association of life stage with place, and that return migration reflects the ways in which key events in the individual life course transitions and family life cycles of 1980s emigrants have intersected with processes of economic and social transformation in Ireland. This occurs within the context of heteronormative and kinship-based ideals of Irish culture and of powerful myths of return. The data used in the paper is taken from the Narratives of Migration and Return research project, a north–south cross-border project which assembled an oral archive of 92 return migrant life narratives. In the paper, I draw on 33 of the interviews conducted in the south, which focused on the cohort of return migrants who had emigrated in the 1980s.

Source: Irish Geography Volume 41, Issue 2, 2008 Special Issue: SPECIAL ISSUE ON MIGRATION

Author(s):Caitríona Ní Laoire
Publisher:Taylor & Francis Online
Publication Date:06 Jun 2008
Geographic Focus:Ireland
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