As far as historical and cultural impact is concerned, it is difficult to overestimate the impact of the Irish Potato Famine (also called The Great Famine or The Great Hunger), which was caused by failure of potato crops between the years of 1845 and 1852. As the potato was (and is) a cornerstone in traditional Irish cuisine, many Irish people emigrated in an attempt to escape the widespread starvation and disease this crisis caused. This emigration took place on a mass scale; by the end of the 18th century, 40% of people who were born in Ireland were living somewhere else. Today, there are about seven times more people of Irish descent in the United States alone than there are in Ireland proper.
Although James Joyce was born in 1882 and therefore did not live during the Famine itself, this new Irish diaspora would definitely affect Joyce’s concept of nation in addition to the years in which he himself lived outside of Ireland. In order to explore the effect of diaspora on Joyce, the International James Joyce Foundation has issued a Call for Papers for their 2017 North American James Joyce Symposium around the theme of diaspora and its entailing concepts, including but not limited to “Home, Identity, Boundaries, Place, Dislocation, Dispersal, Memory, Mourning, [and] Translation”. The Symposium will be held from June 21 to June 25 at the University of Toronto (a city that itself was host to many Irish immigrants) and is accepting submissions until January 15, 2017.
For more information about the Symposium and its submission requirements, please see the conference’s official website.