Imagining the Scottish diaspora: emigration and transnational literature in the late modern period

Macdonald, C.M.M. (2012) Imagining the Scottish diaspora: emigration and transnational literature in the late modern period. Britain and the World, 5(1), pp. 12-42. (doi: 10.3366/brw.2012.0033)

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While recent historical scholarship has embraced the notion of a Scottish diaspora, this article subjects the term and its application to emigration from Scotland in the late-modern period to rigorous analysis, highlighting both its merits and its limitations. To date, research in this area has typically addressed associational culture within migrant Scottish communities and measured the influence of emigration in terms of numerical indices, the lives of successful migrants, and the impact of institutions such as clanship, the church and the armed forces. This article questions the extent to which such measures of Scottish cultural influence are appropriate for the period since 1900, and challenges ‘tartan’ caricatures of Scottish emigrant culture. Rather, a far more complex interchange of ideas is highlighted in the literature of the Scottish diaspora in the late-modern period which problematises notions of ‘home’, travel and nationality. A more sophisticated rendering of the diaspora paradigm is proposed - one that is more in keeping with the most recent historiography of the Atlantic Archipelago and more appropriate to an age marked by internationalisation and globalised communications. To illustrate the efficacy of such an approach, case studies examine the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, John Buchan and R. B. Cunninghame Graham. In these short explorations it is shown how cosmopolitanism and an irony were important distinguishing features of how the diaspora influenced appreciations of Scottish identity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacDonald, Dr Catriona M M
Authors: Macdonald, C.M.M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Britain and the World
ISSN (Online):2043-8575
Published Online:01 March 2012

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