Trading Places: Comparing and Collecting the Scottish Commercial Diaspora

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Migration is one of the defining phenomena of the 21st century, high on the news agenda, prominent in political discourse and perceived as a uniquely modern global challenge. In Scottish life, migration has been a critical and multifaceted feature for centuries. Yet the diverse nature of Scottish migration is not fully explored in existing scholarship or public representation of the past, with much of the available work focused on the traditional settler destinations of the “New World”. This workshop sought to expand academic knowledge and improve museum interpretation of Scotland’s commercial diaspora, focusing on the material culture of short-term economic migration. Taking a case-study approach, the workshop discussed the Scottish commercial presence in (a) Northern Europe and (b) East Asia, from the 17th to the 21st century. Public engagement will encourage comparisons with contemporary short-term economic migration into Scotland.Research questions:1) Can we draw meaningful comparisons between the Scottish commercial diaspora in the early modern and late modern period? 2) How can we identify objects in this country and internationally which represent material evidence for the Scottish commercial diaspora? 3) To what extent can reference to the recent experiences of Scottish commercial diaspora communities aid our understanding of their equivalent in the past? 4) How is the impact of the Scottish commercial diaspora remembered in the case study locations? 5) What influence does the host environment have on the material culture of the Scottish commercial diaspora?6)Can we measure how material culture helps anchor or redefine identity in a highly transient environment?7)Can heightened understanding of commercial migration from Scotland be of value in building relationships with communities coming to Scotland today?
Period9 Jun 2017
Event typeWorkshop
LocationEdinburgh, United KingdomShow on map