Decolonizing Scottish Studies

May 11, 2021

SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies and SFU Public Square presented "Decolonizing Scottish Studies" on Saturday, April 17th. This free, virtual event featured enlightening talks followed by a Q & A.

This is the first in a series of events organized by the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University whose aims are:

1. to examine colonial histories and present circumstances involving Scotland and the Scottish diaspora and

2. to consider the roles that Centres of Scottish Studies can play in the work of decolonization.

The speakers on this panel come from both sides of the Atlantic and offer different lenses from which to consider the issues. Settler scholar Alyssa Bridgman (Simon Fraser University) revises the myth of Simon Fraser by assessing literary works and commemorative sites which represent him as a Scottish-Canadian hero-explorer. Emma Bond (St. Andrews) and Michael Morris (U of Dundee) set the story of an individual employee (Fraser) of an individual company (the Northwest Company) in the context of larger networks within which such companies flourished as they present research from their Transnational Scotland project, a project that re-evaluates Scotland’s 19th-century connections to objects involving exploitative practices (such as sugar, jute, cotton, tobacco, tea, and linen) as well as the representations of those objects and practices in contemporary heritage repositories such as museums. Continuing with the theme of heritage, Amy Parent, Noxs Ts’aawit (Mother of the Raven Warrior Chief) (University of British Columbia) analyzes the philosophical and epistemological questions at stake in the display of her family pole, the Niis Joohl pole, in the National Museum of Scotland as well as her project to repatriate the pole and create a newly-carved pole in its place. “Decolonizing Scottish Studies” is open to the public, and we echo the language of the co-chairs of SFU’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC) report in hoping that the event will bring people together in a “spirit of reconciliation, cooperation, and optimism” to go forward on the road of decolonizing Scottish Studies.

View the video of the event, which includes an introduction by SFU's Centre for Scottish Studies Director, Professor Leith Davis.

Then, watch the presentation by Dr. Emma Bond and Dr. Michael Morris, "Transnational Scotland: Legacies of Empire."

SFU's Department of English and Public Square co-sponsored this event. It was part of Towards Equity, SFU Public Square's 2021 Community Summit Series.