The end of (Irish) migration studies?

Translocations E journalTranslocations – the Irish inter-university ejournal for migration, race and social change – is in danger of closing. In NUI Cork, migration studies is threatened with closure. and what about Ireland’s other migration studies projects?

No one has heard from the Minister of Integration Conor Lenihan for weeks – once his budget was cut by 26%, he stopped making public appearances. Some might say that this is just we well, but the fact remains that the issues of immigration, and integration, and interculturalism, and equality seem off the agenda in the new climate of panicky economic meltdown. Migrants from Eastern Europe, we are being told, are going home in their thousands (a recent report in the Guardian put the figure at 1,200 per week returning to Poland from Britain and Ireland). Asylum applications are the lowest to date. And while deportations continue on the quiet, there is no talk about it. Nor have we heard much talk about language acquisition, education issues, service provision, housing.

If only a very short time ago politicians and pundits were saying ‘there was too much diversity’ and that therefore multiculturalism has ‘gone too far’, now we are hearing about British workers demonstrating against migrant labour, as jobs are on the line and redundancies become an everyday story – a com pletely different proposition.

Those of us who do ‘ethnic and racial studies’ still have a lot to do, yet those of us doing ‘migration studies’ look like yesterday’s story and need to reconfigure our theoretical and empirical strategies. We know that migrants are here to stay. We also know that migrants are constructing new networks and associations in increasingly difficult times – their energy and optimism is contagious. We need to think together with them as to how to carry on. La Lotta continua!