Happy St Andrew’s Day 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 23.18.32St Andrew’s Ball’s have been celebrated around the world since the nineteenth century, with a few earlier examples pointing to the ball’s roots. I have written about these balls in detail – in fact, an image of a St Andrew’s Ball is on the cover of my last book. It was, therefore, a particular pleasure for me to finally attend a ball, namely that of the Hong Kong St Andrew’s Society. This ball was amongst the largest balls in the world, easily attracting well over 1,000 guests in the late nineteenth century. In 1886, the annual St Andrew’s Day ball was, as the China Mail noted, one of great sociability, with an illustrious round of guests gathered at the City Hall. This had been superbly decorated for the occasion. The …

It’s a winner! Saltire Society Research Book of the Year

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 22.13.40I am absolutely delighted that Clubbing Together has been selected as the winner of this year’s Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award—my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Saltire Society and also my publisher, Liverpool University Press. Clubbing Together is my first book after the one stemming from my PhD, and, as such, writing it was an entirely different experience—one shaped by new freedoms, being liberated from the constraints of thesis regulations and requirements. Partly as a result of that freedom, I consider Clubbing Together a bolder book, one in which I pushed the boat out more in terms of developing my ideas about the meaning of diaspora and the evolution and function of Scottish ethnic associations around the world.

Seeing that ‘pushing out of the boat’ recognized

The role of migrant networks

p1034waipuNetworks served as risk minimisers and sources of comfort, two purposes that can already be traced in relation to the voyage out. George Sutherland, for instance, wrote positively about the presence of fellow Scots aboard his ship heeaded for New Zealand; he was especially pleased to learn of the ship’s six Scottish engineers: ‘none’, wrote Sutherland, ‘surpass the canny Lowland Scot in the handling of machinery’. Living, working, simply being, among fellow countrymen was viewed as beneficial. Archibald McCallum reported that he worked together with Mr McFarlane whom he knew from Scotland and a ‘Peter McLauchlan from Bailliston who came in the same ship with us. There are five of the passengers in the same house . . . so we are all well acquainted. When we are joking with …

Digital Museum: Contributors Wanted

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 22.04.39Explore the history of Scottish migration and the Scots abroad through objects and their stories – this is the idea behind the Scottish Diaspora || Digital Museum I have just launched. The Museum is designed to offer an online home for the history of the Scots abroad, telling that history through objects.

While not all migrants will have had the option to take with them items from home – taking luggage could be expensive, and sometimes, for instance in cases where people had to leave in a hurry – many objects Scottish migrants around the world brought with them when the left Scotland are kept in museums and archives.

And of course there are those items that are still in the possession of families and indivudals, perhaps handed down over …