Edinburgh Centre for Global History

Scottish Diasporic Military Identities, c.1880- present day

The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland worked together on a collaborative research project, led by Dr Wendy Ugolini (University of Edinburgh) and David Forsyth (National Museums Scotland).

In 2012, Dr Wendy Ugolini published a chapter on Scottish Commonwealth Regiments in A Military History of Scotland, edited by Jeremy Crang, Edward Spiers and Matthew Strickland. This led to a research collaboration with David Forsyth, Principal Curator in Scottish History and Archaeology at the National Museum of Scotland. The first part of this project was an international research workshop, Wha' bears a blade for Scotland?: the construction of Scottish diasporic military identities, c.1880- present day which involved academics and museum curators from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. This was funded through a Scottish Government Arts and Humanities Award which was administered by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

This workshop undertook a comparative investigation of the phenomenon of ‘military Scottishness’ as an overlooked expression of Scottish diasporic identity. Overall, the project sought to enhance our understanding of military Scottishness in the wider context of the associational culture of the Scottish diaspora, which brings with it a material culture dimension.

This was followed by a well-attended public symposium hosted at the National Museum of Scotland in September 2012. Finally in April 2016, Edinburgh University Press published a jointly-edited volume, A Global Force: War, Identities and Scotland's Diaspora, which brings together the presentations and papers from the two events.

The project publication, which focuses largely on First World War experience, is also being celebrated as part of the National Museum of Scotland’s First World War centenary project.