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Challenging Utopia: Irish Migrant Narratives of Canada

Johanne Devlin Trew
The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies
Vol. 31, No. 1, Irish-Canadian Connections / Les liens irlando-canadiens (Spring, 2005), pp. 108-116
DOI: 10.2307/25515566
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25515566
Page Count: 9
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Challenging Utopia: Irish Migrant Narratives of Canada
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Abstract

Cet article précise l'importance de l'histoire du vécu personnel dans les recherches sur la migration et souligne deux projets récents en Irlande qui emploient justement la méthodologie narrative du vécu personnel. Contrairement aux récits écrits, les interviews individuels permettent, est-il énoncé, de donner une voix à l'ambivalence du migrant. Ce cas est précisément illustré dans le cadre du Narrative of Migration & Return Project où des entrevues furent réalisées avec quatre individus provenant de l'Irlande du Nord, qui ont immigré au Canada durant les années 1970 et qui sont ensuite retournés dans leur pays. Leurs différentes expériences relatent les complexités de la migration et contredisent la vision prédominante qui fait du Canada un lieu utopique, si souvent transmise par la littérature. /// This paper argues for the importance of the individual life story to migration research and outlines two recent Irish projects about migration which have employed life narrative methodology. In contrast with written accounts, the life narrative interview is more likely to give voice to migrant ambivalence which, it is argued, has political potential to invoke change. The case is specifically illustrated in the Canadian context with interviews conducted for the Narratives of Migration & Return Project with four individuals from Northern Ireland who immigrated to Canada during the 1970s, all of whom eventually chose to return to Ireland. Their various experiences relate the complexities of migration and challenge the arguably predominant view of Canada as a utopian place so often conveyed in literature, humour and image.

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