Publication details [#59449]

Lambkin, Brian. 2014. Migration as a metaphor for time: ‘Dealing with’ the past and ‘dealing with’ the future. Metaphor and the Social World 4 (2) : 265–291.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Two previous articles proposed the reframing of metaphors for metaphor and time in terms of migration as a device or tool for promoting public understanding. They addressed the difficulty in the social world of explaining the world of metaphor and the world of time (Lambkin, 2012, 2014). The latter was concerned with a particular difficulty of time: explaining how we access the world of the past and the world of the future from the world of the present. The concern here is with a further difficulty of time: explaining how, once ‘accessed’, we ‘deal with’ the past and ‘deal with’ the future. It is argued that a better understanding of the simultaneity of these two inextricably linked actions is important in the social world, especially in the discourse of conflict resolution when the tension between ‘dealing with’ the past and ‘dealing with’ the future is an intractable problem, as currently in the Northern Ireland ‘peace process’. The metaphorical representation of that tension is examined in a recent document of the Northern Ireland peace process (Haas & O’Sullivan, 2013) and in three other illustrative texts (Hughes & Hamlin, 1977; Giddens, 1999; Cameron, 2011). A proposal is made for reframing the phenomenon of ‘simultaneous pluralism’ or ‘plural singularity’ in terms of migration, as a way of promoting the public understanding of time in particular, and as an aid to resolving or ‘dealing with’ the tension between ‘dealing with’ the past and ‘dealing with’ the future when in the social world it becomes problematic.