Highland history writing and postcolonial thought

I’m delighted that one of my first forays into writing about postcolonial thought and Highland history has now been published in the latest issue of Northern Scotland.

I was inspired to write this article by Jim Hunter’s pioneering work on Highland history, especially his innovative use of Frantz Fanon and Edward Said’s ideas as tools for thinking about the region’s past. Indeed, one of my earliest posts on this blog dealt with some of these themes, especially in the context of Hunter’s brilliant book On the Other Side of Sorrow (1995). You can read more about Jim’s ideas in his inaugural lecture as Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, published in Northern Scotland in 2007

In my article, I take Jim Hunter’s approach to postcolonial thought and use it 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 UHI 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 on Hunter’s pioneering interpretation of Highland history through the work of Fanon, the 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.

Here’s the first page of the article and just get in touch (Jim.MacPherson@uhi.ac.uk) if you’d like to get hold of a full copy.

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