Migration is the process of ‘moving place of residence’. Comprehensively understood, migration includes not only immigration, internal migration, emigration, return migration and the dynamic interaction among all these aspects, Migration also covers the formation of ‘diasporas’ – scatterings of people who are resident outside their common home place of origin – and the ‘family’ type of relationship that connects diasporas to their home places.
From the 1990s, when historians started advocating the case for ‘putting migration into history’, there has been a concerted challenge to the myth of the ‘static’ society – the tendency to see ‘normal’ community life as settled and movement away from the birthplace as deviant. The ‘putting migration into history’ project has resulted in works with titles such as Migration in World History, Migration in European History, and Migration in Irish History. Our approach to migration studies is laid out in Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007 by Patrick Fitzgerald and Brian Lambkin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
‘Migration history’ refers to the ‘whole story’ of human migration so far as we can know it; migration ‘culture’ refers to the distinctive ‘way of migrating’ associated with a particular group; and ‘migration heritage’ refers to surviving material and non-material traces of migration history and culture which, to a greater or lesser extent, are ‘treasured’ by the present generation, particularly in archives, libraries and museums.
MCMS is committed to advancing migration studies in general and Irish migration studies in particular, by focusing on the movement and settlement of the peoples of Ireland world-wide from about the year 1600 to the present, including the history, culture and heritage of the Scotch-Irish or Ulster Scots and their links with North America and other parts of the world.
Since the publication of Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007 (Fitzgerald and Lambkin 2008), MCMS is committed to advancing a new approach to migration history, based on the ‘SDO3’ model of migration:
3 Stages: leaving – crossing – arriving
3 Directions: in -within – out
3 Outcomes: segregation – integration – modulation
Key concepts are ‘home’, ‘diaspora’, ‘family’ and ‘throughotherness’ (as developed by Seamus Heaney: the entanglement of identities, such as Englishness, Irishness, and Scottishness in Northern Ireland). Emphasis is placed on the reconstruction of individual and family migration stories within their local community, regional and national settings. MCMS is therefore committed to co-operating with universities, libraries, schools, and local community and family history organisations in the research, teaching and publication of ‘Irish migration, family and community history’.
The main parts of the Irish diaspora – the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – together account for two-thirds of our visitors. The homeland of Ireland, north and south, accounts for most of the other third, with 2 per cent coming from other parts of the world. We are also visited remotely by telephone, email and letter by users around the world, many of whom access our Irish Emigration Database on-line http://www.dippam.ac.uk/.
The MCMS mission is ‘to serve the community as a leading international institution for the study of human migration, focusing on the peoples of Ireland world-wide’