History writing and agency in the Scottish Highlands: postcolonial thought, the work of James Macpherson (1736-1796) and researching the region’s past with local communities

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Abstract

This article argues that postcolonial thought can be used as a tool for thinking about the present in the Scottish Highlands. Taking a case study of collaborative inquiry between local communities, High Life Highland (the body responsible for cultural services in the region) and the University of the Highlands and Islands into the work and legacies of the poet and historian James Macpherson (1736–1796), it examines the way in which the approach and ideas of postcolonialism can be used to better understand the past and critically engage communities in exploring their history. Building upon the work of James Hunter and his pioneering interpretation of Highland history through the work of Frantz Fanon and Edward Said, this article considers how postcolonialism can have intellectual solidarity with histories of the region, especially when we consider the role of the Highlands in processes of colonisation and imperialism. Through this comparative analysis, it demonstrates that using the past as a resource in the present enables communities to change the ways in which their history is presented and to imagine alternative futures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalNorthern Scotland
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020
EventKingussie Heritage Festival 20 - Talla Nan Ros, Kingussie, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Apr 201610 Apr 2016

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