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Grant number: FT-229215-15

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Cian T. McMahon
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV 89154-9900)

The Coffin Ship: Irish Migration, Mortality, and Memory in Global Perspective, 1845-1855

Summer research and writing on European, Immigration, and U.S. History.

In Irish America's rogue gallery of oppressive technologies, the "coffin ship" enjoys pride of place. Folklorists and grandmothers alike agree on the basic outline of that "miserable epic" yet few academics have tackled the subject. My goal is to reevaluate this timeworn symbol from a transnational perspective through archival research. Mid-nineteenth-century migrants traveled on a global shipping network designed, built, and operated in the service of modern capitalism. Using the Famine-era Irish as a case study, The Coffin Ship examines the ways in which migrants negotiated, and even shaped, this world system. This project has appeal for scholars and general audiences across the humanities. A critical phase in the history of globalization pivoted on the process of human migration, yet there exists no close study of the instrument that lay at its Irish heart. The Coffin Ship offers a new perspective on the history of mass migration: from the decks of the ships themselves.

Project fields:
European History; Immigration History; U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2015 – 6/30/2015