Migration and the Female Orange Order: Irish Protestant Identity, Diaspora and Empire in Scotland, 1909-40

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This article examines the role of women's Orange lodges in Scotland in the migration process during the first half of the twentieth century. Historians have emphasised the importance of diasporic connections to Orangemen in England during the Victorian era, but none has addressed the extensive participation of women in the forging of Orange networks, both in Britain and Ireland and throughout the British world, during the twentieth century. This article engages with recent research on migration, diaspora and cultures of the British Empire `at home¿, arguing that some female Orange lodges supported women's emigration from Scotland, both emotionally and financially, especially during the interwar period. Ceremonies held to mark the departure of migrants, letters written `back home¿ by Orangewomen who had left Scotland, return journeys to visit the `old country¿ and newspaper reports of their sisters abroad all had a significant effect on those women who remained in Scotland. Using Avtar Brah's concept of `diaspora space¿, this article argues that the Orangewomen of Scotland developed a `diaspora consciousness¿ which was shaped substantially by the Orange Order's ideological commitment to empire. Moreover, this `diaspora consciousness¿ was experienced not only in the physical space of the city of Glasgow and the lodge room, but also in the imaginative space of the Belfast Weekly News, demonstrating how Orangewomen's diasporic identity was rooted in multiple `homelands¿ that embraced both Scotland and Ireland, connected by an overarching Irish Protestant identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-642
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number4
Early online date26 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


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