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Homecomings: genealogy, heritage-tourism & identity in the Scottish Highland diaspora

Basu, Paul; (2002) Homecomings: genealogy, heritage-tourism & identity in the Scottish Highland diaspora. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This work is concerned with the processes through which members of diasporic communities, construct and negotiate aspects of their identities in relation to perceived ancestral homelands. Addressing a central paradox of globalization-the contrary movement towards localization-I examine the role of place, belonging and territorial attachment in an age often characterized by placelessness, mobility and deterritorialization. More particularly, the thesis explores flows of people, images, objects, ideas, symbols and stories within a posited Scottish diaspora, focusing on journeys made by people who claim Scottish Highland descent ordinarily living in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other regions in which Scottish migrants have historically settled, to the Scottish Highlands and Islands, pursuing genealogical research and seeking out places associated with their ancestors. Many such travellers define their journeys, contra tourism, as homecomings, quests and pilgrimages: I interrogate these assertions, considering in what ways these secular practices may be regarded as sacred acts. Through the agency of these genealogical 'journeys of discovery', I suggest that individuals are able to construct meaningful, morally-defensible and 'authentic' self-narratives from the ambiguities and discontinuities of their migrant histories, thus recovering a sense of being 'at home' in the 'maelstrom' of modernity. It is ironic that such localizing strategies are often enabled through globalizing technologies such as the internet, and, indeed, it is through the global mediascape that the Highland homeland is 'imagineered' in diasporan consciousness. I consider the relationship between these discursive realms and the material realms of the homeland, arguing that, whilst the two are inseparable, it is ultimately the phenomenological encounter with the material landscape of the Scottish Highlands and Islands that confers substance to the heritage-tourists' identity claims. The research is based on fieldwork conducted throughout the Scottish Highlands and Islands and among online Scottish heritage communities between 1998 and 2001.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Homecomings: genealogy, heritage-tourism & identity in the Scottish Highland diaspora
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by the British Library's EThOS service.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141768
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