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Visible and invisible borders in time and space: History, biography and work borders in a research career

Geraldine Healy (School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 9 August 2019

Issue publication date: 9 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore how biography influences professional and academic development. It aims to show how in different ways our experiences reflect the structures of society and that histories repeat themselves with different protagonists and different preys. It uses the author’s own biography to argue that in the author’s case, early influences of Irish migration shaped some of the decisions she made and her commitment to researching inequalities. The paper also asks how relevant are early life influences on the careers of equality and diversity academics?


This paper uses a biographical method that draws on a personal history of migration and relates these to historical moments to show the interconnection between the self and wider macro events.


The findings of the paper show the relevance and interconnection of biography with the macro and political context. The paper explores how an academic's personal biography[1] and the multi-layered relationship between the self and the wider macro historical context have influenced her research development. It does this by using her personal stories of being part of an Irish community and shows how everyday interactions may lead to a sense of being an outsider, of being other. History is used to show the multiple borders that Irish and other migrants experience, from biographic and diasporic borders, to violence and conflict and finally to work borders including the link with the author's research work. The paper argues that while the targets of discrimination may change over time, contemporary events can intensify the devaluation and othering of particular migrant groups.


Each biography has a unique element but the paper shows how individual biographies are connected and interrelated with the macro level of analysis.



The author sincerely thanks the brilliant colleagues and friends with whom she has worked and without whom much of this work would not have been done. She gives particular thanks to her wonderful daughters, Aideen and Ciara Silke, who read and made helpful comments on an earlier draft. This part of their story too, so their comments on the personal parts of the paper were particularly valued.


Healy, G. (2019), "Visible and invisible borders in time and space: History, biography and work borders in a research career", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 676-691.



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