Ireland's National Diaspora Centre, Fortress Europe and Europe's Migration Crisis

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Gerard BOUCHER, University College Dublin, Ireland
Iarfhlaith WATSON, University College Dublin, Ireland
Austerity in Ireland led to a revival of interest by Irish governments in the Irish diaspora, particularly for capital investment and tourist expenditures from wealthier North Americans. This was exemplified in The Gathering in 2013, which ignored poorer emigrants in British and American cities, the dispersal of over 200,000 young Irish since 2009, and Ireland’s 500,000 or so immigrants and naturalised citizens from around the world and their diasporic communities. This very selective gathering with its combination of an ethnic and wealth-based conception of Irish national identity was largely reproduced in the government’s proposal for a National Diaspora Centre. Interestingly, the feasibility study for the centre, commissioned by the National Tourism Development Authority, provides striking visual images of a core-periphery layered model of the Irish diaspora. The images are epiphenomena of a wider national discursive structure in Europe. It reveals increasing levels of inclusion closer to the core. The layers of the images are explained in terms of a ‘core’ consisting of the diaspora of current national emigrants, the more distant ethnic based generations of Irish descendants, and more diffuse Irish influences on world culture. These images are remarkably similar to Andrew Geddes’s diagram of a layered core-periphery model of Fortress Europe (2000), which, in terms of inclusion and exclusion, are discursively similar. This model focuses on the use immigration policies and peripheral European borders to protect national cultures and a ‘western’ European identity from physically and culturally different immigrants from outside Europe. The parallel between the Irish and European core-periphery images is all the more salient in the context of Europe’s ‘migration crisis’ of 2015 which has led to a return of Fortress Europe border controls. This paper explores the links between these core-periphery images and nationalist, ethnocentric and racist ideologies applied to images of the European migration crisis.