The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: evidence, memories, inventions

The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain is an innovative five-year interdisciplinary research programme being funded by The Leverhulme Trust. The Programme is based at the University of Leicester, and draws on additional expertise from the Institute for Name Studies at the University of Nottingham.

Diasporas are not a modern phenomenon. Ever since the last Ice Age people have moved into the British Isles from the European continent. Our research focuses primarily on the cultural, linguistic, and genetic interactions between peoples known to history as ‘Celts’, ‘Britons’, ‘Anglo-Saxons’, and ‘Vikings’.

Diasporas involve the migration of people from a homeland and the maintenance over time of links with that place. The homeland is often idealised, and collective memories or myths about it are nurtured and transmitted across generations, long after the living links of the migrants have died out. Migrant groups maintain a strong ethnic consciousness through shared habits, material culture, memories, and language; they often synthesize a sense of collective identity and construct a common cultural discourse.

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