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Famine, migration and public health


This week we explore the relationship between famine, migration and public health, focusing in particular on the ‘Great Famine’, which spurred huge waves of migration to England, North America and Australasia and vast problems in managing an unprecedented flow of impoverished migrants for host nations. Over 2 million Irish left Ireland during and in the immediate aftermath of the Famine. From the first years of the Great Famine there has been intense controversy as to its causes, its consequences and the state’s responses to the crisis. In England Irish migration provided a spur to the Condition of England debates, and was associated in particular with epidemics of typhus and cholera. Further, this session will focus on Ó Gráda and O’Rourke’s article on ‘lessons from the Great Irish Famine’ to explore the broader relationship between migration, famine and disease epidemiology.

1. How did migration impact on attitudes towards and ways of managing epidemic disease outbreaks?
2. Can we ‘learn’ lessons from the historical past with regard to the relationship between famine, movements of population and epidemiological crises?

Cormac Ó Gráda and Kevin H O’Rourke, ‘Migration as Disaster Relief: Lessons from the Great Irish Famine’, European Review of Economic History, 1 (2006), 3-25 (Cambridge Journals, available online via Warwick Library).

Jeffrey Evans, ‘Introduction: Migration and Health’, Special Issue of International Migration Journal ‘Migration and Health’, 21 (1987), v-xiv. (JSTOR)

Read through Alison Bashford’s introduction ‘“The Age of Universal Contagion”: History, Disease and Globalization’, in Alison Bashford (ed.), Medicine at the Border: Disease Globalisation and Security, 1850 to the Present (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 1-17.

Dip into James Vernon, Hunger: A Modern History (Cambridge, Mass and London: Harvard University Press, 2007), esp chapters 1 and 2.

Frank Neal, ‘The Famine Irish in England and Wales’ and Patrick O’Sullivan and Richard Lucking, ‘The Famine World Wide: The Irish Famine and the Development of Famine Policy and Famine Theory’, in Patrick O’Sullivan, The Meaning of the Famine (London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1997), 56-80, 195-232.

Frank Neal, Sectarian Violence: The Liverpool Experience 1819-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), chapter III.

Cormac Ó Gráda, Black ’47 and Beyond The Great Irish Famine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), esp. chapter 3.

Cormac Ó Gráda, Ireland’s Great Famine. Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2006), esp. chapters 4, 7 and 10.

Cormac Ó Gráda, ‘Famine, Trauma and Memory’, Béaloideas, 69 (2001), 121-43. (JSTOR)

Donald M. MacRaild, Irish Migrants in Modern Britain, 1750-1922 (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1999).

Roger Swift and Sheriden Gilley, The Irish in the Victorian City (London: Croom Helm, 1985).

Mervyn A. Busteed, Robert I. Hodgson and Thomas F. Kennedy, ‘The Myth and Reality of Irish Migrants in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Manchester: A Preliminary Study’, in Patrick O’Sullivan (ed.), The Irish in the New Communities (Leicester and London: Leicester University Press, 1992), 26-51.

Liam Greenslade, ‘The Blackbird Calls in Grief: Colonialism, Health and Identity among Irish Immigrants in Britain’, in Jim MacLaughlin (ed.), Location and Dislocation in Contemporary Irish Society: Emigration and Irish Identities (Cork: Cork University Press, 1997), 36-60. Not in library, ordered ILL

Mary Poovey, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation 1830-1864 (Chicago and London: 1995), chapter 6 ‘Domesticity and Class Formation: Chadwick’s 1842 Sanitary Report’.

Alan M. Kraut, ‘Illness and Medical Care among Irish Immigrants in Antebellum New York’, in Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meager (eds), The New York Irish (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 153-68.

Alan M. Kraut, Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the ‘Immigrant Menace’ (New York: Basic Books, 1994), chapter 2.

Liam Greenslade, Moss Madden and Maggie Pearson, ‘From Visible to Invisible: The “Problem” of the Health of Irish People in Britain’, in Lara Marks and Michael Worboys (eds), Migrants, Minorities and Health (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 147-78.

Patrick Bracken and Patrick O’Sullivan, ‘The Invisibility of Irish Migrants in British Health Research’, Irish Studies Review, 9:1 (April 2001), 41-51.

Additional Readings: Famine in India, Famine and Development

S. Ambirajan, ‘Malthusian Population Theory and Indian Famine Policy in the Nineteenth Century’, Population Studies 30:1 (1976)

D. Arnold, ‘Famine in Peasant Consciousness and Peasant Action: Madras 1876-8’, in Ranajit Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies III (1984).

D. Arnold, Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change (1988), ch. 2

M. Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famine and the Making of the Third World (2000)

T. Dyson, ‘The Population History of Berar since 1881 and its Potential Wider Significance’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 26:2 (1989).

T. Dyson (ed.), India’s Historical Demography: Studies in Famine, Disease and Society (1989).

I. Klein, ‘When the Rain Failed: Famine, Relief and Mortality in British India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 21:2 (1984).

P. Sainath, Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts (1996), pp. 317-24, 339-46, 367-70.

R. Seavoy, Famine in Peasant Societies (1986), ch. 4.

A. Sen, Poverty and Famines (1981), ch. 1, pp. 1-8.

B. Stein, A History of India (1998), pp. 260-64 [good introduction to the topic].

L. and P. Visaria, ‘Population 1757-1947’ in D. Kumar (ed.), Cambridge Economic History of India, Vol.2 (1983)