Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scottish Homecoming

Dorte's post yesterday on DJ's Krimiblog, which included a photo of a pack of shortbread with 'Homecoming Scotland' logo printed on it, reminded me that late last year myself and a couple of colleagues (Mark Boyle and Delphine Ancien) spent a couple of days in Scotland interviewing people involved in managing Scotland's diaspora as part of a project for the Scottish Government - this included those in charge of the Homecoming Scotland project. It also reminded me that there was a Scottish Diaspora Forum held at the Scottish Parliament on July 25th (I've found some coverage in the Scotsman yesterday and some of our work discussed in the comment by Eddie Tait).

I've no idea how Homecoming Scotland has been going - it seemed to me at the time of the interviews that it was being transformed from a project concerned with engaging the diaspora to a tourist one aimed at getting bodies in beds. The outcome of our project was a report - The Scottish Diaspora and Diaspora Strategy: Insights and Lessons from Ireland - for the Scottish Government that compared the Irish approach to its diaspora with the Scottish approach and suggested potential ways forward for Scotland to productively engage with its diaspora.

Our principle arguments were that any diaspora strategy has to focus on both culture and economy; be as inclusive as possible; be productive for both the diaspora and Scotland; and should be light and flexible and not overly managerialist or overly determined. My suspicion is that given the differences in the nature and modes of governance between Ireland and Scotland, that the Scottish approach will largely continue to replicate its current strategy whilst trying to widen the net. We'll have to wait and see how things develop.

Over the past six months we've organised an international workshop on diaspora strategies that brought together policy makers from 8 countries and the World Bank and written three other reports on diaspora strategies including one for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. I'll write about those reports at some other point.


Dorte H said...

Thanks for linking to me!

As a teacher, I have read about the Irish diaspora, of course, but the whole idea of a Scottish diaspora is new to me.

Rob Kitchin said...

Dorte, coincidently the Scottish Government have sent us through a new report for us to comment on this afternoon. According to it there are 12,986 UK born people living in Denmark, 1,117 estimated to be from Scotland. There are 1,129 Irish born people living there. The Scottish diaspora - all generations - is estimated to be about 40 million, 8 times the homeland population. The Irish diaspora is estimated to about 65 million.