Fraser in Fearn: Migration, Diaspora, and the Ghosts of Empire in the Return Visits of Peter Fraser (New Zealand Prime Minister) to the Highlands, 1935–1949

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Abstract

Building on Eric Richards’ ideas about Scottish Highlanders as an ‘imperial people’, this article is about how diasporic movement and connection created significant bonds between Easter Ross and New Zealand in the twentieth century and beyond. It focuses on a microstudy of the village of Fearn, famed as the birthplace of Peter Fraser, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1940 to 1949. Peter Fraser returned to the Scottish Highlands many times during the 1930s and 1940s, and these visits reveal the diasporic links between different parts of empire and ask questions about our understanding of enduring imperial legacies and memories. I argue that Peter Fraser’s return visits to Fearn can be interpreted as a form of ‘homecoming’, which tell us much about Fraser himself and how his own sense of identity continued to be shaped by a connection to the place of his birth. However, this article focuses less on Fraser and more on the effect his return visits to Fearn had on the village and its communities. Fraser and Fearn become, then, a case study of the diasporic ties of belonging between Scotland and New Zealand and how a shared belief in empire, especially during World War Two, connected folk in the Highlands with diasporic Scots, such as Fraser, on the other side of the world. Peter Fraser’s return visits to Fearn nurtured this sense of imperial connection and the way in which Fraser’s Highland homecomings are remembered in the region demonstrate the ongoing legacies of empire that continue to shape Scotland to this day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-193
Number of pages23
JournalNorthern Scotland
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • r3
  • r5

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