20 February 2011

Ancestral Scatterings

If you have visited this blog a few times before, you may have seen a few links in the right hand column about something called a diaspora.  If you have not come across the word before, a diaspora is an ancestral scattering of one sort or another.



Here is a link to Wikipedia giving an overview of the topic


The idea of a homeland may have meaning for you, though I personally try to feel at home wherever I may be in the world.  It does not really matter to me whether my ancestors experienced life in one place or another, or in several places, though I am quite curious to know about the natural and cultural environments in which they lived.







How does your experience of the world shape your beliefs and your outlook on life?  Are you part of a diaspora?  Are you part of more than one diaspora, through your ancestors?


Perhaps being a migrant myself has something to do with my ideas about home, beliefs and ancestral origins.  I have written on this topic in a few of my earlier blog posts:


We are all related

Taking the best of the past into the future

Connect to your heritage


Today, I thought I would put the links from the right hand column into this blog post:


International Organisation of Migration


Martin Frost - British diaspora

Absolute Astronomy - Italian diaspora


Museum of the African Diaspora

SSCNET - The Indian diaspora


My Jewish Learning - The Jewish diaspora

Ireland Roots - Ireland's diaspora


There are, of course, many other websites and web pages about one sort of diaspora or another.  There are also many other topics of relevance.



Another Wikipedia page - List of diasporas

Wikipedia - Passport

Wikipedia - Refugee


Wikipedia - Human Migration

Wikipedia - Immigration

Wikipedia - Immigration history of Australia


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

History of displaced persons in Australia


Have you discovered aspects of your family history relating to displacement or deportation?  Were your relatives perpetrators or victims of persecution?  Were they slaves and/or slave owners?

Were any of your ancestors, or even yourself, a refugee?  Were your family, on the other hand, mostly economic migrants, or seeking to be reunited with loved ones, or seeking a cultural environment to better suit their values and interests?

Perhaps you have Huguenot ancestry.  I have not found any (yet) in my own family history.  Do you have any Huguenot names in your family?


The Huguenot Society of Australia

Wikipedia - Huguenot


As far as I know, I do not have any French ancestry at all, at least since the time of the Norman conquest (see previous blog post).  I do not really know if my Belgian ancestors were only of Flemish origin or if some were Walloon, or from some other group.

From census records, it appears that some of them could probably speak French (the eldest brother of my great grandfather in London was visited on census night, 1911, by a French chef and his wife).


Wikipedia - Walloons

Wikipedia - Walloon names

Wikipedia - Dutch/Flemish names

Wikipedia - Flemish people

Wikipedia - Flemish language


I mainly consider myself to be part of the English diaspora, however scattered my ancestral identity might have been.  Like the couple depicted in the painting near the top of this blog post, I migrated as a middle class person rather than a working class one.

Migrating was also my own decision, though the decision to allow me into Australia as a permanent resident was taken by the Australian government.  I was allowed in to the country as an "alien" when my husband agreed to be my sponsor for the first two years.  I am certainly not a "ten pound pom"!

Whatever people's time and place of migration, whether their departure is forced or voluntary, it has a bearing on their family history.  I do not have children of my own, but my decision to migrate may encourage the children of other family members to think about doing so.



Wikipedia - English people

Wikipedia - Ten pound poms

Immigration Museum, Victoria - Ten pound poms


History Compass Exchanges - the hidden English diaspora

Wikipedia - Historical immigration to Great Britain

Wikipedia - British diaspora


New Statesman - 2 August 2004
Exodus: the great British migration

Telegraph UK - 15 November 2007
Emigration soars as Britons desert UK

BBC News - 15 November 2007
Record trends in UK migration


Telegraph UK - 21 February 2008
Why Britain's brightest and best are emigrating

Guardian UK - 26 August 2010
Figures show 20% increase in net migration to UK


UK Office of National Statistics - Migration

Australian - Migration statistics


National Museums Liverpool - Leaving Liverpool 1858

National Archives UK - Emigration and shipping records


Several of my cousins have left Britain permanently since I did, as has my father and one of his sisters.  Many of my other relatives have left Britain over the years several times, on a temporary rather than a permanent basis.

Although I have been lucky to be able to afford to travel back quite frequently to visit my family, I am very glad that I no longer live Britain, especially in its cooler months.  And I am even more pleased that I am able to escape its crowds.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.