Challenging Utopia: Irish migrant narratives of Canada

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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. 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. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-116
JournalCanadian Journal of Irish Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2005

Bibliographical note

pages are A4 size (article is 9,800 words)


  • return migration
  • Northern Ireland
  • Canada
  • life narratives
  • immigrants


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