I'm not sure how I tripped across Keep Your Kilt to Yourself, a 2001 article from the Economist, but I saved it and finally read it. The article wonders why the Scottish Diaspora isn't more like the Irish one: why do those of Scottish descent need to be convinced to import Scottish goods or travel to Scotland. The date of publication was October 2001 so part of the American desire not to travel abroad had its roots in 9/11. The author then discusses the work of Tom Devine, who was due to speak at Columbia that month, and why he believes the differences exist. There were more Irish who came and they were united by their Catholicism and desire for Irish independence. Additionally, most Irish were unskilled while the Scots were skilled and therefore more quickly able to adapt and succeed in the United States.
Devine echoes these similar ideas in one of his recent articles published in the Scotsman. In this piece he laments the fact that second generation Scottish-Americans don't care about modern Scotland in the same why that Irish-Americans do.
I was always interested in Scotland as the place were my grandfather was born; I did not become interested in modern Scotland until I had lived there. I would suspect that something is true for many people - they are interested in their ancestor's pasts, whether that past be in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Italy or Scotland.
Additionally, almost anything that says "British" in America really means English. I was forever irritated with universities sought British Historians to teach Tudor-Stuart Britain or Britain since 1688 as these time frames are clearly demarcated by English History and most didn't even include Scotland in the course descriptions. Seriously. The only time Scotland appeared in some British history books that I've seen over the years is when they were "pestering" the English. The Original Thirteen Colonies were the always the English Colonies. In US History textbooks the Union of 1707 merits about a sentence. When I was young we were taught that all the people and documents that influenced the American Revolution were English. Although, I am not sure that this is still the case. So, we in America, are not trained to think of Scotland as a modern nation in the same way we are trained to think about England or Germany.
This article was written when I began the third year of my dissertation - nothing but write, write, write and mad dashes across the Central Belt to the National Archives of Scotland. (On the bus because it was cheap!) Then I left Scotland the following year. So, I am not sure what became of the website mentioned in the Economist article or whether Homecoming 2009 was a success. But since they are planning a new one in 2014, it can't have been all that bad. The Scottish Government's Diaspora Engagement Plan from November 2010 is here.
So what do you think? Does the Scottish Diaspora care about Modern Scotland? If you don't care, what might encouraged some concern on your part?