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Annie Moore and the archives of displacement: towards an immigrant history of the present

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Annie Moore, the first immigrant to enter the USA through the Ellis Island immigrant processing station, stands as an originary figure of the so-called golden age of European immigration to the USA in the late nineteenth century. The contemporary archivization of the Irish immigrant Annie Moore in the Ellis Island Museum, New York and the Cobh Harbour Heritage Centre in County Cork, Ireland repeats the democratic rhetoric of immigration which underpins the foundation of the USA, as well as the national imaginary of Ireland. Yet in so doing, this archivization effaces the hierarchies of race and class that have historically underpinned the democratic rhetoric of immigration. With reference to Jacques Derrida's work on the archive and hospitality, this article expands on a performance-based critical art intervention into the archivization of Annie Moore entitled 'Calling Up Annie Moore'. Focusing on the blindspots, ellipses and discontinuities which the archive represses, the article traces the different histories and experiences of immigration which the art intervention disclosed.

Keywords: Ellis Island; Ireland; archive; diaspora; history; immigration; monument; photography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: English, School of Humanities University of Southampton UK

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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