The legacies of the Irish Famine still hold firm ground in North America, both among and beyond communities with Irish-American roots. This becomes visible, for example, in the creation of a Famine curriculum for New York State and the erection of many monuments dedicated to Famine emigrants and victims in the US during the 1990s, such as the Famine monument at Chicago’s Gaelic Park designed by Father Anthony Brankin. The reactions to such efforts and monuments show that the Famine past is a living and complex memory that for some competes with legacies of the black diaspora and the genocide of Native Americans.
Monuments like Rowan Gillespie’s The Arrival in Toronto symbolise the emigrants’ hope for a better future across the Atlantic. At the same time, such references to Canada’s Famine diaspora as a success story of immigration and integration are complicated by the memories of the fever ships and quarantine stations (McGowan 2009; King 2014).
The research project Teaching Great Famine Legacies in North America is conducted by Prof. Marguérite Corporaal and investigates a rich corpus of Famine-related educational curricula and practices used by schools, heritage institutes, diasporic community centres, and museums in the US and Canada. How do the ways in which these communities, institutions, and individuals transmit Ireland’s Famine and Famine migration past through formal and informal education interact with legacies of other troubled pasts?
This research project is one of seven subprojects of Heritages of Hunger.