Uprooted: the contentious politics and long-term economic impact of resettlement programs in Western Democracies
This inter-disciplinary project investigates the politics and long-term economic impact of the population resettlement programs of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and contrast them to those adopted in Ireland, a country of similar geographical size, urbanization level and economic profile. While NL opted to settle people out of peripheral rural areas, the Irish government has, until recently, been subsidizing the relocation of its urban population into rural areas. What explains the adoption of such contrasting resettlement policies? And perhaps most importantly, were they the most effective way to manage public resources or the most appropriate rural development programs?
In order to investigate these questions, we will interview key stakeholders involved in resettlement projects in NL and Ireland, including members of the resettled communities themselves, representatives from communities where people were resettled, and government officials. We will also conduct a media analysis of local and national newspapers covering resettlement in general. Finally, in an effort to provide a more detailed overview of the long-term effects of resettlement on a given community, we will also conduct fieldwork in two localities in Newfoundland and one in Ireland.
Despite being very much rooted in the NL context, this research project has the potential to contribute to the larger literature and policies on migration, demographic engineering, and rural economic development. By organizing a symposium on Resettlement, it is also meant to start a conversation on population policies in NL and how to build strong, viable communities and promote sustainable development in NL hinterland and peripheries.