Irish female emigration in the 1930s: transgressing space and culture

Ryan, Louise (2001) Irish female emigration in the 1930s: transgressing space and culture. Gender Place and Culture, 8 (3). pp. 271-282. ISSN 0966-369X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09663690120067348

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Abstract

Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 1920s, the continuing levels of emigration from Ireland came as a disappointment to many who believed that British colonialism had caused and perpetuated the emigration problem. Within this context, there was a need to explain emigration in ways that deflected blame away from the new state authorities. In this article, the author contributes to a gendered analysis of these shifting constructions of emigration. Drawing upon Irish newspapers of the period, she suggests that the figure of the 'emigrant girl' was central to post-colonial discourses on emigration. During the 1930s, the emigration of thousands of young Irish women to English cities such as London sparked widespread comment and criticism. The Irish press and the Catholic hierarchy in particular propagated an image of these vulnerable young women as lost and alone in the big, bad cities of England. The author analyses the ways in which the 'emigrant girl' embodied specific representations of place, culture and gendered identity; the 'emigrant girl' embodied an Irishness marked by religion, culture and landscape. Through her transgression of physical, cultural and religious spaces, she encountered loneliness, danger and the risk of denationalisation.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
ID Code:3618
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Deposited On:12 Jan 2010 13:35
Last Modified:29 Oct 2013 05:45

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