Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Primer on Scottish Diaspora Studies

If you are just beginning your study of Scottish Diaspora studies or your hunt for Scottish Ancestors, then “The Emigrant Experience: The Scottish Diaspora” (here, PDF) by Euan Hague is the article for you. In this piece, Hague summarizes a conference of the same title held at the University of Guelph in October 1999. Only 30 of the 100 attendees at the conference were professional academics, indicating that the majority were students and “regular” people interested in the topic.

The conference organizers didn’t really like the term “diaspora” and thus relegated this piece of “academic jargon” to the second part of the conference title. Even some of the speakers found this term contentious at the time. While in the ensuing 13 years the term diaspora has become more commonly used by academics (and even the Scottish Government) to describe Scottish emigration, I don’t think it has quite reached the masses. A case in point, I had wanted to call this blog The Scottish Diaspora Blog since "diaspora" refers not only the people who emigrated but also to the communities they created away from Scotland. However, I knew that hardly anybody would Google “Scottish diaspora;” the arm-chair historian or genealogist was much more likely to search for “Scottish emigration” or “Scottish emigrants.”

After setting the scene for the conference, Hague highlights the main themes of the conferences as well as the speakers and their subjects: Michael Vance, Ned Landsman, Stephen Duguid, Jack Little, Callum Brown, Michael Newton, Fiona Black, Kathy Carter, and Euan Hague.  A list of references is provided.

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