Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Migration, Promise Of The Day Twelve

There is much heat, little light, a lot of dogma but few sensible discussions of migration issues at present to support all the promises being made.  Some, for example, EU Referendum on Monday 6 April, point out that it is complex and doing something may amount to a number of joined up things rather than talking big ideas.  Sub Rosa discusses the human side today, Wednesday 22nd April.

There is a great deal of history in human movement and the geneticists can tell tales of the unexpected; because of the limitations of sources of the long past, historians cannot offer the certainties we want.  We know about Attila The Hun and Genghis Khan and such like, but not of many other movements that impacted in different ways.

In terms of recent academic studies at one time population was something that straddled economic geography and statistics with a good deal of theory but not a lot of hard evidence about the nature and purpose of movement.  A result is that demographics has been something to avoid by serious or ambitious academics and others.

One area of study, on the one hand a very minor field left to a few students with particular minds has become a blood sport for a great many amateurs and stray academics to call their own.  It is genealogy and family history.  When done well it can be quite informative but great care is needed.

For me it has the advantage that if I use my own DNA and  family history to illustrate how migration works and if set carefully into the historical background it can be illustrative.  A recent update on just one branch allowed a demonstration of the function of extended families operating in a connected network of families over several generations.

The very recent digitisation of many types of record and source can shed light on many questions. One intriguing finding is that rather than my lot being a law abiding upright sort rather more than expected have migrated shortly after incurring the wrath of the local magistrates.

Also, extended and closely connected families are not always happy ones.  Court records and other legal documents indicate too often endless disputes within and between families which may seem trivial to much later generations seem to have been the stuff of life for earlier ones and running over decades at least.  One choice example in The Lady's family is the ancestor who attempted to gaol the President and Fellows of Magdalene College, Oxford.

A number of his extended family were given free tickets to Australia after burning the local workhouse down.  The joy of this is that the Magistrates in question were closely connected to another extended family of mine.  The evidence suggests that this was not the end of the matter, the people sent away carried their disputes with them far across the sea to enliven their new families as well as other rivalries.

Meanwhile, over the water by the Mountains of Mourne the well researched (by others) extensive family network of one of my eight great grandparents were shifting large numbers of their surplus younger sons and daughters across the sea to Liverpool.

It was not long before they had re-established the patterns of their town lands of origin around the streets of Everton and Bootle as well as the marriage patterns and bickering.  While these in the 19th Century were regarded as Irish, the surnames plus the location gave strong indications of extensive movement to and fro across the water, in the past a norm, from all parts of the Atlantic Isles.

This may well have been the root of many and various disputes and rivalries.  Paradoxically, "mixed" marriages only seemed to make matters worse.  One of the features of this particular migration was it went on for generations allowing larger and larger numbers to create a new culture.

Now we call them "Scousers", and this should be enough to warn people today of the terrors of uncontrolled migration of persons unwilling to be diversified.  Years later, some of these claiming to be musicians bullied a craven BBC into letting them control its popular music output.

What was worse was that the money many made out of this racket was moved out to tax havens and the British Government then forced to pay for new airports there for this new celebrity upper class.

As for modern migration from places which have major population increases, economic difficulties and political and religious divisions it is now a lot easier to travel from parts of the East and Africa than was the case from the West of Ireland, the North of Scotland and the scattered locales of the Atlantic Isles to the major urban centres of the United Kingdom long ago.

When they arrive distant from their extended families and put in place both old and new patterns of extended and connected families this is nothing new, it is just that we have forgotten some of our own pasts and now live individually or in "nuclear" families.

With modern communications and media there is no real need to adjust much to new places other than ensuring there is central heating and the relevant retail and other services.

Why watch BBC and ITV, other channels or American when you can see much better programmes and features from back home wherever that may be?

The choice is there.


  1. Many problems are made worse by a lack of openness. Too many people in positions of influence prefer debates to be narrow and ineffectual.