Accepted Paper:

Enshrining Vietnamese versions of Irish-ness  
Mark Maguire (Maynooth University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the cultural history of the Vietnamese-Irish. I pay specific attention to 'enshrining' - the spatial practices of belonging - through examples ranging from religion to home videos, in order to draw out and extend a reading of the spatial turn in critical social theory.

Paper long abstract:

Ireland could once have been described as an "emigrant nursery", to borrow the geographer James MacLaughlin's term, whereas now it is immigration that dominates media and public discourse. Dramatic shifts in migration patterns have dovetailed with the rise of the so-called Celtic Tiger economy, and both immigration and economic growth have been fundamentally urban in character.

Anthropological studies of ethnocity contexts can illuminate much about immigrant incorporation, and relations to mainstream society and, perhaps, to the broader transnational world. In this paper, I draw on recent ethnographic work (Maguire 2004) among the Vietnamese-Irish to consider the cultural history of this minority in terms of resettlement, livelihood, education and home life, as these themes relate to broader forces. The Vietnamese-Irish maintain strong transnational connections and, yet, have an active engagement with specific versions of Irish-ness. I discuss these topics through the eyes and in the words of the people themselves.

In the latter part of the paper I pay specific attention to 'enshrining'—the spatial practices of belonging—through examples ranging from religion to home videos, in order to draw out and extend a reading of the spatial turn in critical social theory from Foucault (2002) to Lefebvre (1991). The central point here is that migrant connections to the transnational or diasporic world, to the specific conditions of immigrant incorporation and to the imagination of the future are by necessity spatial and, thus, are available for anthropological analysis: this holding together of different worlds is what I term enshrining.


Foucault, Michel. (2002). The Order of Things: an archaeology of the human sciences. London and New York: Routledge.

Lefebvre, Henri. (1991). The Production of Space. London: Blackwell.

Maguire, Mark (with photographs by Thai Van Nga). (2004). Differently Irish: a cultural history exploring 25 years of Vietnamese-Irish identity. Dublin: The Woodfield Press.

MacLaughlin, James. Ireland: the emigrant nursery and the world economy, Cork, Cork University Press, 1994.

Panel W070
Transitions: movements in space and time