New Book: Clubbing Together

clubbingI am delighted to announce that my new book, Clubbing Together: Ethnicity, Civility and Formal Sociability in the Scottish Diaspora to 1930, has been published by Liverpool University Press. I have accumulated a host of debts throughout the preparation and writing of this book, so I’d like to take the opportunity and thank a few people and organizations here.

A few ‘thank yous’:

First, I’d like to acknowledge the British Academy for the support I have received through the Small Research Grant scheme (SG100441). I am also grateful to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which has funded some of my research in Australia related to ethnic associations. The Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University also deserves my recognition for giving me the opportunity to be a Visiting Fellow.

I was able to add further ‘global depth’ to this study thanks to the generous research support received from Northumbria University; in particular I would like to thank the previous Dean, Professor Lynn Dobbs, and research support colleagues, especially Andrew Pool, Jessica Scott and Gill Drinkald.

The material for this study has been collected from a large number of archives and repositories. I have been welcomed and assisted by staff at the National Library of Scotland; Archives & Special Collections at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; the City of Toronto Archives; the Archives of Ontario, Toronto; Glenbow Museum Archive, Calgary; the New York Historical Society and the New York Public Library; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; the South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston; the National Library of Australia; the State Libraries of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia; the Migration Museums in Adelaide (particular thanks to Catherine Manning) and in Melbourne; the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand; Glasgow University Archives; and the Highland Archive Centre, Inverness. I would like to extend a special thanks to staff at the Hong Kong Public Records Office; the Newspaper and Hong Kong Collections at the Hong Kong Public Library; and to staff at the National Archives in Singapore: all have been extremely helpful, providing help when the Asian research environment provided the odd challenge. Special thanks also go to Gillian Leitch for sharing electronic copies of the Montreal St Andrew’s Society records with me.

And of course many colleagues, friends and my family also deserve my thanks. I’ll spare them the public naming here: rest assured you’re all acknowledged in the book and that I thank you all very warmly for all your support over the years. I would, however, like to mention three people here:

Thanks to Graeme Brechin for invoking your Scottish networks in Southeast Asia for me, but even more so for your hospitality and friendship over the years, lunch at the Hong Kong Club and all. What started in January 2011 with a meeting at the Canny Man finds its culmination here—and a good one at that (or so I hope).

I also wish to acknowledge Emma Bainbridge who, in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera, provided me with a wonderful writing retreat. Sadly, my time on the island was cut short by the fires that raged in the summer of 2012; much of the first full draft of this book, however, was written there.

And finally a special thanks to Alan Macdonald for supplying the electronic copy of the wonderful image used for the cover of the book [Hong Kong St Andrew’s Society Ball, 1886 (image printed in The Graphic, February 1887)]. Click here to see the cover in a larger size.


Emigrants carried a rich array of associations with them to the new worlds in which they settled, often ‘clubbing together’ along ethnic lines shortly after first foot fall. Yet while a crucial element of immigrant community life, one of the richest examples, that of Scottish migrants, has received only patchy coverage. Moreover, no one has yet problematized Scottish associations, such as St Andrew’s societies or Burns clubs, as a series of transnational connections that were deeply rooted in the civic life of their respective communities. This book provides the first global study to capture the wider relevance of the Scots’ associationalism, arguing that associations and formal sociability are a key to explaining how migrants negotiated their ethnicity in the diaspora and connected to social structures in diverse settlements. Moving beyond the traditional nineteenth-century settler dominions, the book offers a unique comparative focus, bringing together Scotland’s near diaspora in England and Ireland with that in North America, Africa, and Australasia to assess the evolution of Scottish ethnic associations, as well as their diverse roles as sites of memory and expressions of civility. The book reveals that the structures offered by Scottish associations engaged directly with the local, New World contexts, developing distinct characteristics that cannot be subsumed under one simplistic label—that of an overseas ‘national society’. The book promotes understanding not only of Scottish ethnicity overseas, but also of how different types of ethnic associational activism made diaspora tangible.


Figures, Tables, and Maps
Introduction: Ethnic Associational Culture in the Scottish Diaspora: Definitions, Approaches and Perspectives
1. Scotland’s Near Diaspora
2. North America
3. The Antipodes
4. Africa
5. The Far East
6. The Complexities of Diaspora and Scottish Ethnic Associationalism


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