London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Mary Hickman

Professor of Irish Studies and Sociology

Background and Career
Research Interests and Activites
Postgraduate Support


  • BA Social Studies, University of Liverpool
  • PGCE, University of London
  • MSc Sociology, Southbank Polytechnic
  • PhD Sociology, University of London

Contact Details

Institute for the Study of European Transformations
Faculty of Applied Social Studies
London Metropolitan University


Mary J. Hickman is Professor of Irish Studies and Sociology at London Metropolitan University. She established the Irish Studies Centre at the former University of North London in 1986 as a teaching, research and archival base for Irish Studies, gaining recognition for study of the Irish in Britain. She is now Director of the Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET) which she establsihed in 2002 after leading a successful bid for funding. Previously she was also Programme Director for European Studies, 1993-1995, and Reader in European Studies, 1995-2001, in the School of Languages and European Studies, University of North London. She has been Visiting Professor at: Ireland House and the European Studies Centre, New York University 1997-98, the West European Institute, Columbia University, 1997, the Europe-Australia Institute, Victoria University, Melbourne, 2002, and the John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies, University College Dublin, 2010.

She founded the Archive of the Irish in Britain in 1989 which is now housed in ISET. She was a member of the Irish Governments Task Force on Policy Regarding Emigrants (2001-2002). She is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Irish Social Sciences Platform (ISSP) a multi-disciplinary consortium of eight higher education institutions funded by the Irish government. She was an advisor to the Sectarianism in Scotland working group of the Public Interest Research Network in 2007. She has been a member of the Runnymede Trust Academic Consultative Forum since 2006. For the British Council in 2005 she co-organised a five-day seminar on the theme 'Migrations: Philosophies and Practices of Integration'. She was an academic advisor to the Performance and Innovation Unit, Cabinet Office, London, for the project 'Improving the labour market achievements of ethnic minorities' in 2001-2002. She was a member of the Academic sub-group of the Office for National Statistics, London, 1998-2001.

She is a member of the British Association for Irish Studies and was a member of its Executive Committee in the 1990s. She is also a member of the Irish Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand and of the New York Irish History Roundtable. She is a member of the editorial boards of Irish Studies Review and of Translocations: Migration and Social Change An Irish Inter-Disciplinary Open Access E-Journal She is a member of the Standing Committee of Heads of European Studies and of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies and is an ESRC panel member.

Reviews for: American Anthropologist, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, Ethnicity and Health, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Feminist Review, Journal of Historical Sociology, Irish Studies Review, Nations and Nationalism, Global Networks, Irish Journal of Sociology, Irish Historical Studies, European Journal of Culture, Social and Cultural Geography, Women's Studies International Forum, History of Education Journal, Economy and Society, Journal of Baltic Studies, Urban Studies.

Referee reports for: Economic and Social Science Research Council, Leverhulme Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Nuffield Foundation, Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences and various publishers.

Media work for BBC (including Newsnight, BBC 2, Woman's Hour and Today Programme, Radio 4), ITV, RTE, Sky News, CNN, local radio in UK and Ireland. Innumerable interviews about the Irish in Britain, Northern Ireland or general ethnic integration issues for news programmes and documentaries.

External Examining

2007-2010: MA in Migration and Diaspora, Department of Geography University College Cork
2002-2006: BA in Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Limerick
1997-1999: MA Cultural Studies, Warwick University
1991-1993: Certificate and Diploma in Urban Community Studies, Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, Birkbeck
Doctoral examinations: Strathclyde; Warwick; Glasgow; Huddersfield; Open University; University College Dublin; National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Anglia Ruskin University


Research interests

Early research concentrated on the analysis of the relationship between class, religion and ethnic identitiy in complex processes of incorporation of the Irish in Britain and practices of resistence. This was followed by investigation of the discrimination experienced by Irish immigrants. Her current research interests include: migrations and diasporas; national (re)formations; analysis of ethnic and racial differentiations and discriminations; and comparative processes of integration/social cohesion.

Current and previous funded research projects:

ESRC (2008-2010) 'A comparative study of the representations of 'suspect' communities in multi-ethnic Britain and of their impact on Muslim and Irish communities', Principal Investigator. This project compares the impact of counter-terrorism policies and representations of 'suspectness' on Irish communities and Muslim communities in two eras of political violence between 194-2007. More information here.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2005-2008) 'Rhythms and Realities of Everyday Life: improving our understanding of the relationship between recent immigration and social cohesion', £267.000, principal applicant and project director. The project aimed at understanding the way different groups of long term residents and new arrivals negotiate everyday life across six different sites in the UK: Kilburn/Downham (London), Peterborough, Leicester, Glasgow, Dungannon (N. Ireland). More information here.

ESRC (2005-2006) 'Changing and Claiming Ethnic Identities: the evidence of the ONS Longitudinal Study', co-researcher (with Prof. R. Moore, Liverpool University). This project sought to establish the extent of changes in selected ethnic identities between the 1991 and 2001 censuses and to discover the extent to which persons 'entitled' to claim to be Irish did or did not so claim in the 2001 census. More information here.

ESRC (2000-2002) 'The Second Generation Irish: A Hidden Population in Multi-Ethnic Britain' Co-PrincipaI
Investigator (with Prof. Bronwen Walter, Anglia Ruskin University). The project aimed to provide a detailed picture of the 'hidden' population of second-generation Irish people in multi-ethnic Britain; develop a framework to explain hybridities of identity and specifically both the retention and loss of distinctively Irish identities in the second and subsequent generations in different geographical locations (London, Banbury, Coventry, Manchester, Glasgow); and contribute to debates about 'whiteness' and racialisation in Britain. More information here.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin (1998-1999) grant for research on second and third generation Irish people in Britain, principal applicant and project director. This project aimed to trawl existing datasets in order to produce a socio-economic and demographic profile of the second-generation Irish in Britain.

Irish American Cultural Institute (1998) research grant to collect data and write a comparative study of the Irish diaspora

London Borough of Lewisham (1996-1997) 'The Irish in Lewisham', project director. To produce a portrait of the Irish in Lewisham and their service needs for the local authority.

Commission for Racial Equality (1995-1997) 'Discrimination and the Irish Community in Britain', project director. This project aimed to examine the ethnic disadvantages of and discriminations experienced by the Irish migrants in Britain.



2012  Migration and Social Cohesion in the UK, Palgrave Macmillan (with Helen Crowley & Nick Mai) (in press, to be published April 2012

1999 Thinking Identities: Ethnicity, Racism and Culture, Macmillan (co-editor with A. Brah & M. Mac an Ghaill)

1999 Migration, Environment and Globalization, Macmillan (co-editor with A. Brah & M. Mac an Ghaill)

1995 Religion, Class and Identity, Avebury

1988 The History of the Irish in Britain: A Bibliography, Irish in Britain History Centre.

Research Reports (published)

‘'Suspect Populations': Irish Communities, Muslim Communities and the British Criminal Justice System’, in K. Sveinsson (ed.) Runnymede Perspective: Criminal Justice v. Racial Justice: Minority ethnic overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, London: Runnymede Trust (17 January 2012)

‘Suspect Communities’? Counter-terrorism policy, the press, and the impact on Irish and Muslim communities in Britain, A Report for Policy Makers and the General Public (2011), Institute for the Study of European Transformations, London Metropolitan University (with L Thomas, S Silvestri and H Nickels) Findings

New Immigration and Social Cohesion: rhythms and realities of everyday life (2008), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (co-author with H. Crowley and N. Mai)

Second-generation Irish People in Britain: a demographic, socio-economic and health profile (2001), Irish Studies Centre, University of North London (co-author with S. Morgan and B. Walter)

The Irish in Lewisham (1998, London Borough of Lewisham and Lewisham Irish Community Centre () co-author with S. Morgan)

Discrimination and the Irish Community in Britain (1997), Commission for Racial Equality (co-author with B. Walter)

Selected articles:


‘Social Cohesion and the Notion of ‘Suspect Communities’: a study of the experiences and impacts of being ‘suspect’ for Irish communities and Muslim communities’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, (with L Thomas, H Nickels and S Silvestri), in press, accepted for publication in 2012

‘Diaspora Spaces and National (Re)Formations’, Eire-Ireland, accepted for publication in Vol 47, Spring/Summer 2012.

‘Constructing “Suspect” Communities: Irish and Muslim Communities in the British Press, 1974-2007’, European Journal of Communication Studies, (with H Nickels, L Thomas and S Silvestri), in press to be published in Vol. 27(2), June 2012

‘De/constructing “Suspect Communities”: A Critical Discourse Analysis of British Newspaper Coverage of Irish Communities and Muslim Communities, 1974–2007’, Journalism Studies (with L Thomas, H Nickels and S Silvestri), available online 7 October 2011; to be published in Vol.13 (3) June 2012


'Census Ethnic Categories and Second-generation Identities: a study of the Irish in England and Wales', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37 (1) (2011)


‘New Labour and Community Cohesion in Britain 2011-2010’, Translocations, 6 (2) (2010). Available at: http//


‘The Immigration Effect’, Public Service Review, Issue 13 (12 October 2008) LGR13 M Hickman

'Migration, Postindustrialism and the Globalised Nation State: social capital and social cohesion re-examined' Ethnic and Racial Studies (with Helen Crowley), 31(7): 1222-1244 (2008)


'Hybrid and Hyphenated: second generation Irish in Britain' Catalyst, London: Commission for Racial Equality

'Immigration and Monocultural (Re)Imaginings in Ireland and Britain' Translocations: The Irish Migration, Race and Social Transformation Review, Vol. 2 (1), (Summer), an e-journal at:

'Multiculturalism in one country? Economy and Society Vol. 36 (2): 318-324


''Diversity''s Blind Spot. A response to Richard Alba'' (2006) Ethnicities Vol 6(4):542-546


'I am but I am not? A view of/from Britain' in T.Reilly (ed.) Britain & Ireland: Lives Entwined, Dublin: British Council Ireland (2005)

'Social support structures for migrants' in Reconciling Mobility and Social Inclusion - the role of employment and social policy, Report of the Irish Presidency of the European Union Conference, Bundoran, Ireland 1-2 April 2004

'Ruling Empire, Governing the Multi-National State: the impact of Britain's historical legacy on the contemporary ethno-racial regime' (2005) in Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy. Comparing the US and UK, edited by G. Loury, T. Modood and S. Teles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

'The limitations of whiteness and the boundaries of Englishness: second-generation Irish identifications and positionings in Multi-ethnic Britain', (2005) Ethnicities Vol. 5 (2): 160-182 (with B. Walter, S. Morgan and J. Bradley)

'Migration and Diaspora' in Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture, edited by C. Connolly and J. Cleary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


'Differences, Boundaries, Community: The Irish in Britain' (2003) in City Cultures Reader, edited by M. Miles, London: Routledge (reprinted from Distant Relations: Chicano, Irish, Mexican art and critical writing, 1995)

'Family Stories, Public Silence: Irish Identity Construction amongst the Second-generation Irish in England' Journal of Scottish Geography Vol. 118 (3) 201-217 (with B. Walter, S. Morgan and J. Bradley)


'Differences, Boundaries, Community: The Irish in Britain' in Recoveries and Reclamations, Advances in Art & Urban Futures Volume 2, edited by J. Rugg and D. Hinchcliffe, Bristol: Intellect Books (reprinted from Distant Relations: Chicano, Irish, Mexican art and critical writing, 1995)

'Locating the Irish Diaspora' (2002) Irish Journal of Sociology Vol. 11 (2) 8-26


'"Binary Opposites" or "Unique Neighbours": the Irish in Multi-Ethnic Britain, Political Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 1, January-March, pp. 50-58


'Reconstructing deconstructing 'race': British political discourses about the Irish in Britain' Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2, March, pp. 288-307

Also 16 chapters in books and four miccellaneous publications


Postgraduate Students

Piaras Mac Einri: Boundaries and Belongings in Contemporary Ireland: Irish responses to the challenges of immigration and integration

Trevor Scott: Alternative Ulster: Voices of political radicalism, cultural empowerment and social dissent within the Loyalist paramilitary experience in Northern Ireland since 1966

Maria Elfani: The Impact of National Minimum Wages on the Non-Wage Benefits of Labour Migrants - Evidence from the UK

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