Poverty, health, and imperial wealth in early modern Scotland

Mackillop, A. (2022) Poverty, health, and imperial wealth in early modern Scotland. In: Bhambra, G. K. and McClure, J. (eds.) Imperial Inequalities: The Politics of Economic Governance Across European Empires. Series: Postcolonial International Studies (15). Manchester University Press: Manchester, pp. 157-176. ISBN 9781526166142 (doi: 10.7765/9781526166159.00018)

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The chapter explores how questions of national, social, and individual health and poverty intersected in early modern Scotland with debates over the new inequalities created by empire. Widespread perceptions of Scotland’s material impoverishment were exacerbated through inclusion in a new British state and single market. Much of the cultural tone informing debates on Scotland’s potential as a ‘province’ of the new Great Britain was shaped by the supposedly stark contrast with the country’s more affluent southern neighbour. In this context, ideologies of ‘improvement’ emerged strongly which sought the individual and collective advancement of Scottish society. Yet this ‘improvement’ agenda generated highly ambivalent reactions. On the one hand, empire was seen as an absolutely central means of securing this wider societal progress. Yet, simultaneously, many feared Scotland had become too quickly and unsustainably immersed in empire. Overseas links were widely critiqued as a destabilising influence, generating new forms of poverty, socially disruptive consumption, and the loss of national wealth through migration. The chapter argues that an underappreciated way that these tensions were resolved involved the conscious and conspicuous allocation of colonial wealth to the country’s health, welfare, and educational provision.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mackillop, Dr Andrew
Authors: Mackillop, A.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Research Centre:Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre (ARC) > Technologies Touching Life
Publisher:Manchester University Press
Published Online:29 November 2022
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