Shortlisted entries 2011
15. Soul Allegiances
Culture, Dr Liam Harte
My research focuses on the cultural expression of changing meanings of home and belonging among Irish people in Britain. Migration entails the loss of a familiar, sustaining community and demands a fresh orientation towards new and often discomfiting circumstances. Yet the past is never entirely left behind, even by those who devoutly desire it, any more than the present is seamlessly embraced, once and for all. Repeatedly, I encounter – in person and in print – bilocated migrants whose lives are marked by a continual fluctuation between cultures, histories and realities. So while many Irish immigrants find that an uprooted life can, paradoxically, become a more fertile one, others remain lightly moored here, even in death, as this photograph taken in Southern Cemetery demonstrates. My work shows that assimilation and transnational allegiance are not mutually exclusive. Rather, a truly sustainable community is one that values diversity as a source of transformation.
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