I got it when I was in Tyrone,
And I’ll get it to the last,
I’ve got it here in Glasgow,
And I’ve got it in Belfast.
You may talk about your sporting games
Or anything you choose,
But each Thursday night sure I delight
In my “Belfast Weekly News”.1
In September 1913, at the height of the Third Home Rule Bill crisis, the
women of FLOL No. 19 gathered in their lodge room in the East End of
Glasgow. While the political crisis in Ireland was foremost in their discussions that night, the social event that followed their meeting filled
This book is an ethnographic study of devolution and politics in Scotland, as well as of party-political activism more generally. It explores how Conservative Party activists who had opposed devolution and the movement for a Scottish Parliament during the 1990s attempted to mobilise politically following their annihilation at the 1997 General Election. The book draws on fieldwork conducted in Dumfries and Galloway – a former stronghold for the Scottish Tories – to describe how senior Conservatives worked from the assumption that they had endured their own ‘crisis’ in representation. The material consequences of this crisis included losses of financial and other resources, legitimacy and local knowledge for the Scottish Conservatives. The book ethnographically describes the processes, practices and relationships that Tory Party activists sought to enact during the 2003 Scottish and local government elections. Its central argument is that, having asserted that the difficulties they faced constituted problems of knowledge, Conservative activists cast to the geographical and institutional margins of Scotland became ‘banal’ activists. Believing themselves to be lacking in the data and information necessary for successful mobilisation during Parliamentary elections, local Tory Party strategists attempted to address their knowledge ‘crisis’ by burying themselves in paperwork and petty bureaucracy. Such practices have often escaped scholarly attention because they appear everyday and mundane, and are therefore less noticeable. Bringing them into view analytically has important implications for socio-cultural anthropologists, sociologists and other scholars interested in ‘new’ ethnographic objects, including activism, bureaucracy, democracy, elections and modern knowledge practices.
The Scottish dreamscape: formation
The people portrayed in this study are chasing dreams of Scotland. They do not
usually celebrate modern Scotland, the place on the map, but a Romantic fantasy of Scottish history, a land of kilts, Celts, clans, and bagpipes. The Scots of
Europe – much like their cousins, the roots enthusiasts of North America and
Australasia – cherish the Scottish dreamscape.
The Scottish dreamscape was not invented by Hollywood – even if films such
as Annie Laurie (1927), Brigadoon (1954), Highlander (1986), and Braveheart
Our Scottish past: commemorations
The pipers and athletes examined in the previous two chapters do not imitate
the past. While it is important to most of them that the musical, athletic, and
sartorial traditions they engage with are ‘old’ and solidly rooted in history, they
do not attempt to reproduce that history. They perform in what they hope is an
ancient but living Scottish tradition. Commemorators and historical re-enactors
have a totally different objective. As the next two chapters demonstrate, they seek
to recall or even recreate the past in the
The Scottish dreamscape: spread
The Scottish dreamscape originated in the second half of the eighteenth century.
How then is it possible that it continues to inspire European play-actors today?
This chapter investigates the Highland mythology’s endurance and spread.
Again, this is a chapter not on Scottish national identity, but on an internationally potent stereotype.
The image of Scotland as a wild Highland periphery was disseminated by
two of the most wide-reaching forces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the British Empire and American popular
A Tory-free Scotland
Pierre Bourdieu once described parliamentary democracy as a struggle in which
the most important agents – political parties – are engaged ‘in a sublimated form
of civil war’ (1991: 181). Taking up this metaphor, I would suggest that when I
began my fieldwork in September 2001, Dumfries and Galloway resembled a
political battlefield which the Conservative Party could be said to have vacated.
What eventually made the Scottish Conservatives of potential ethnographic
interest to me was exactly this apparent absence: the fact that the Scottish
when they sit and drink in their social clubs, the walls of which are covered with old lodge portraits, discoloured with age. Here, the names and faces of the Orange past are made ever-present. Even the fight against Scottish independence can be interpreted as a convening with and a conjuring of history, as Orangemen transform themselves into latter-day Covenanters and latter-day loyalists, refighting (variously) the battles of their Presbyterian and paramilitary forebears (see Chapter 5 ). Equally, as I describe in Chapter 2 , my Orange informants were acutely
Who’s like us? Scotland as a site of memory
The previous chapters have examined the many ways in which adult Europeans
celebrate and impersonate the Scots. It has emerged that many of them hope
that, via Scotland, they can reconnect with their own lost past. This chapter
examines the reasons for the Scottish dreamscape’s striking resonance in northern and western Europe. Why do the continental heritage enthusiasts direct their
playful energy towards the Scottish dreamscape, and not to any other pseudo-
historical fantasy? Why Scotland?
One reason, certainly
This book takes a body of ethnographic data collected in 2001-2, during a year's fieldwork at the Bank of Scotland (BoS) and HBOS, and revisits it from the perspective of the 2014-16 period. It explores the tension between the 'ethnographic present' of the author's original research and the unavoidable alteration of perspective on that data that the economic crisis has created. The original research had been planned to take place in the BoS but in 2001, before the research began, BoS had merged with the Halifax to form HBOS. The book provides a long-term historical perspective on BoS/HBOS, from inception to the 2008 financial crisis, and then a consideration of the nature of historical explanation, under the rubric of 'theory'. The main attempts to explain the proximate causes of the 2008 crisis, as well as more encompassing political economic arguments about the trajectory and dynamics of capitalism are examined. The concept of 'culture' as applied to both national groups, Scots and English, and organizations, BoS and Halifax, are also dealt with. The book examines other governing concepts such as organisational change in the business world and social change, identity and the way Scottish and English experience their own personhood, and comparative nature of ethnographic research. The conclusion reviews and draws together the themes of the book, returning to the overarching question of historical perspective and explanation.
The Orange Order began as an Irish Protestant society in rural Co. Armagh, following the Battle of the Diamond against the Catholic 'Defenders' on 21 September 1795. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the organisation had consolidated its position as a Loyalist, anti-Catholic bulwark against revolution in Ireland and had begun to spread across the rest of the British Isles. Exploring the experience of Orangewomen in England, Scotland and Canada tells us far more than just how and why they became members of the Orange Order. This book demonstrates how largely ordinary, working-class women engaged in conservative associational life and political activism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, subverting various gender norms in their public work. Through migration and diasporic networks, these women were connected to their Orange sisters throughout the world and played a central role in upholding a British imperial identity well into the twentieth century. The Orange Order is often characterised as a thoroughly masculinist brotherhood, associated with Irish sectarian violence. While the Order in Scotland was largely dominated by working-class women, in England we see the organisation embracing a far broader spectrum of social backgrounds. Irish politics and identity were clearly important to Potter and the many thousands of women who were members of Canada's Ladies' Orange Benevolent Association (LOBA). The world of Protestantism conventional gender ideologies and women's public activism, came to prominence through the women's Orange Order.