Migration, Identity and New Information Technology

Unilever ice cream, Chennai Benetton, New Dehli Cough remedy, Accra Colonel Sanders, Souzhou

This site archives the Odyssey Group workshop held at University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Northern Ireland,
23rd-27th August 2004
hosted by Professor Julian Hine, Translink Chair of Transport, University of Ulster, Jordanstown
in collaboration with the Management Research Centre, London Metropolitan University

Aims      Examples     What It's About      Timetable     Programme-in-progress     Location      Participants     Related websites      Guestbook     Migration and Diaspora websites      Odyssey Group



This workshop examined the implications of new information and communications technologies for the social and economic dynamics of identity and community, in the context of migration and diaspora. In particular, the workshop explored:

  • the potential and actual use of the internet and Web as a vehicle for presenting and debating knowledge-claims about migration and diaspora, and of identity and community, particularly by migrant and diasporal communities themselves;
  • the potential and actual use of the internet and Web as a resource for migrants and members of diasporal communities and for those with whom they engage, economically, socially, culturally, politically.


Workshop Outcome

A stream on Accessibility, mobility and connectivity: changing frontiers of daily routines has been approved for the IIS World Congress Frontiers of Sociology taking place in Stockholm in July 2005.

Phoning home from Sydney Australia Internet cafe, Hiroshima


Virtual Journeys:
Archiving Identity

(clicking a link opens a new browser window)

Migration and diaspora web links

Migration, Identity and New Information Technology - Resources

Mobility Biographies: a post-Odyssey development in the reintegration of fragmented histories. Presented in the FIERI Seminar Series, Turin, January, 2005

Crossing a Contested Space: a developing archive of one journey across the Irish Sea to the Odyssey meeting - online links to the contestation around conflicting uses and limited resources

From Green Line to Green Lanes: co-existence and identity beyond a contested space - the Cypriot communities of North London

Irish identities - voicing through song

Mapping Movement as Identity - the Ulster American Folk Park

The Navvies - parody and self-representation by another migratory labour force

Caribbean Diaspora - online resources on the cultural, economic and political impacts of migration on people both within the Caribbean and within the wider Caribbean diaspora, prepared by Fiona Raje

Migration and Skills: The Ghanaian experience

Harvesting the Diaspora - the Indian Government policy on the return of overseas Indians

Funeral trains - online links to resources about the necropolis and funeral trains in the Victorian era

Saving the Picket: - threatened identities, migrant diversity and European cultural capital - Liverpool 2008

Next Practice - new approaches to micro-credit and development, a website being created by Frank Go

Rural Transport - links to research projects - contributed by Ronald McQuaid

Micro-migration - movement and displacement in the inner city: Manchester

Oaxaca Index - Mexican migration pathways
prepared for APROS: Asia Pacific Researchers in Organisation Studies)

Herring Girls - web-based resources on a migrant labour force

The Herring Lassies: a Lowestoft gallery

Hop-picking: a distributed archive - web-based resources on seasonal migration between urban and rural locations


West of Scotland fishing and crofting Temple, Montealban, Mexico



What's it about?

Migration of peoples, as individuals and in groups of various sizes, takes place in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, with a variety of effects. Physically and violently enforced migration (eg slavery), and the 'push' and 'pull' of economic, political, social and cultural circumstances, may be seen throughout history and in the current era. Some migration is short-distance, some long-distance; some takes place once for a particular individual or group, whilst other forms of migration may be repetitive/ seasonal, or as a continuing state of nomadic existence. Some nations, including USA, Canada and Australia, are almost wholly the result of migration; such migration affected both indigenous/ aboriginal peoples and the countries and communities of origin of the migrants. The degree to which communal identity has been retained and maintained, transformed, or lost, has varied, as has the degree of linkage with the originating community. In the past, distance has acted to separate sites of origin and destination, and to separate communities divided by migration. Whilst faster (and safer) forms of transport have enabled physical reconnection, advances in modes of communication may be seen as 're-communifying' those previously divided by migration. The internet and Web would appear to afford considerable scope for such re-communification, and this workshop explored how migrant and diasporal communities have used, and are using, such communication technology.


Street market, Shanghai Street market, London


Migration is currently a major political issue as evidenced by the choice of that topic by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for his speech to the Confederation of British Industry in April 2004. In this speech he sought to 'get behind the myths and misinformation and really look at the facts'. He drew attention to the history of migration to the UK over many centuries, which "is, and always has been, absolutely essential to our economy", and to the settling of migrant communities within a 'diverse Britain'. He also referred to issues of refugees and asylum seekers, the (then-imminent) expansion of the European Community (with free-movement of people across 25 European countries), of 'abuses' of the immigration system and of illegal immigration. The internet and Web would seem to provide an important vehicle for contesting the claims made by those who peddle 'myths' and 'misinformation' (or disinformation?); it may also be a vehicle for disseminating such myths and disinformation, as shown by the websites of far-right political groups and other racist and hate sites. The workshop explored how these new information and communication technologies are being deployed in presentation of, and debate and contestation between, knowledge claims about migration.


Heysham nuclear power station, Morecambe Bay


Tony Blair did not make explicit reference in his speech to the death by drowning of at least 19 Chinese cockle pickers in the fast-moving tide at Morecambe Bay (the number of death later increased to 21) on 6th February 2004. Early media coverage called attention to the role of criminal gangs in illegally bringing in immigrants who are then effectively forced to work in low-paid, poorly-regulated areas of the economy (see, eg, 'Victims of the sands and the snakeheads', Guardian, 7th February 2004). Tragic and high profile cases such this draw our attention to the reliance by many sectors of the economy (particularly agriculture and food production, construction, and domestic services) on migrant labour. These are particularly affected by the supply-chain management practices of retailers under competitive pressures, and by the increase in outsourcing by major corporations (especially in public services). Typically, such areas of employment have little or no forms of collective organisation of workers. The workshop examined how the new information and communication technologies may enable greater public awareness and scrutiny of such issues, and afford channels of advocacy and collective action by, and on behalf of, those who are employed in these areas of the economy.

Wyre estuary, Morecambe Bay

See the timetable for the event here

See the programme as it develops here

See Virtual Book Launches at the event here

  Our location for the workshop

Ulster is an ideal geographical base for the workshop: migration, inward and outward, has had a defining impact on its peoples and communities for many centuries. The workshop explored the affordances of the internet and world wide web in relation to migration from the island of Ireland, and also in relation to other contexts of migration and of diasporal communities.

University of Ulster, Jordanstown, campus directions


Glenavna Hotel

Glenavna Hotel

Ulster Tourist Board

News item:
University of Ulster confers honorary degree on Senator Hillary Clinton


Residential Participants

Our host:

Professor Julian Hine, University of Ulster

Other participants:

Professor Kay Axhausen
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

Professor Frank Go,
Rotterdam School of Management,
Erasmus University

Professor Margaret Grieco,
Napier University, Edinburgh and Cornell University

Dr Banihan Gunay
University of Ulster

John Hogan
University of Hertfordshire

Dr Leonard Holmes,
London Metropolitan University

Dr Stephen Little,
Open University Business School

Andreja Zivkovic,
University of Cambridge

Virtual Participants

to join us as a virtual participant, please email your details to

Professor Nana Araba Apt,
Ashesi University,
Accra, Ghana,

Dr Chris Carter,
Department of Management,
University of St Andrews , Scotland

Professor Stewart Clegg,
School of Management,
Faculty of Business, University of Technology Sydney

Yaw Dankwa

Professor Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University

Dr Melih Kirlidog,
Department of Computer Engineering, Marmara University, Turkey

Professor Ronald McQuaid,
Employment Research Institute,
Napier University, Edinburgh

Dr Perry Morrison,
Morrison Associates Pty Ltd, Darwin, Australia.

Fiona Raje
Transport Studies Unit,
University of Oxford

Dr Gilly Salmon,
Open University Business School

Dr Mimi Sheller,
Lancaster University

Dr Jeffrey Turner
Transport Consultant,

Professor John Urry,
Lancaster University


The workshop is now over and the site is now archived. Further areas for investigation arose during the workshop; and we welcome suggested areas for exploration and collaboration in this process: Leonard Holmes (e-mail: and Stephen Little (email: welcome suggestions and comments.


Related websites: (clicking a link opens a new browser window)

Odyssey Group

The Change Page: Participative Approaches to Development Management

Relational Skill & Learning

ICAN Innovative Collaborations, Alliances and Networks Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney

Unions on line: the emergence of e-forms of collectivism and solidarity

Knowledge Links

Centre for Innovation, Knowledge and Development, Open University

CeMoRe Centre, University of Lancaster.

The ESRC sponsored Mobile Network

Employment Research Institute, Napier University.


to suggest a site, please email the URL to



Istanbul Chennai Taipei New Dehli

Migration, Identity and New Information Technology

Closing statement by Professor Julian Hine, University of Ulster

To Odyssey Group main website

page last updated: 22nd February 2005