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Bryan S. Turner

Edward Shils’ Portraits offers various intellectual biographies of major figures that played a large role in his life, mainly at the University of Chicago. The list is diverse including economists, sociologists, natural scientists, and historians of the ancient world. The diversity illustrates the breadth of Shils’ academic work.

The famous Committee for Social Thought was a key institution in Shils’ intellectual development and, while Portraits can be read as a history of the University of Chicago during the twentieth century, Shils was a trans-Atlantic intellectual with close connections to Peterhouse College Cambridge and the London School of Economics. Portraits is a celebration of the Chicago tradition created by Robert Maynard Hutchins University President (1929-1945) for the in-depth study of ‘great books’, but Shils concludes with a nostalgic reflection on the end of the ‘age of books’. The narrative is haunted by the figure of Max Weber, whose rationalization thesis has been borne out with the rise of the bureaucratic corporate university and the narrow specialization of research.

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Edward Shils

Defender of the traditional university

Philip G. Altbach

Universities and science policy were key areas of Edward Shils’ concerns. His commitment to the research university ideal as the central institution for the production and dissemination of knowledge and the essential role of higher education for social and economic development led him to establish the journal Minerva. This journal became central for research on higher education and for debates on science policy. Shils wrote thoughtfully on the role of the research university, and was one of the first scholars to focus on universities in developing countries, pointing out their centrality for emerging economies. Shils belief in the Weberian ideal of the research university led him to analyse the history of universities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and defend the traditional ideal of faculty autonomy and governance.

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Concluding comments

Edward Shils – the ‘outsider’

Christopher Adair-Toteff

This concluding chapter builds upon the notion of “outsider” that Stephen Turner employed in his Introduction and it assesses Edward Shils’ life and his accomplishments. It is difficult to accurately access Shils’ personal life given that he was a very private individual but he appeared to have been relatively satisfied in his personal relations. And, while it may seem that his professional life was not as successful as he would have liked because he was never to write that “great book” that he had dreamed of writing. Nonetheless, the books and articles that he did write have had a lasting impacting—not just in sociology but in other disciplines. Shils transcended boundaries because he believed in transcendence. For those who believe in such notions as civility, liberty, and tradition, Edward Shils is an impressive transcendent thinker and scholar.

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The calling of social thought

Rediscovering the work of Edward Shils

Edited by: Christopher Adair-Toteff and Stephen Turner

Edward Shils was an important figure in twentieth century social theory, and a true transatlantic thinker who divided his time between the University of Chicago and the U.K. He was friends with many important thinkers in other fields, such as Michael Polanyi and Saul Bellow. He became known to sociologists through his brief collaboration with Talcott Parsons, but his own thinking diverged both from Parsons and conventional sociology. He developed but never finalized a comprehensive image of human society made up of personal, civic, and sacred bonds. But much of his thought was focused on conflicts: between intellectuals and their societies, between tradition and modernity, ideological conflict, and conflicts within the traditions of the modern liberal democratic state. This book explores the thought of Shils, his relations to key figures, his key themes and ideas, and his abiding interests in such topics as the academic tradition and universities. Together, the chapters provide the most comprehensive picture of Shils as a thinker, and explain his continuing relevance.

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Donald M. MacRaild and Philip Payton

Although a heterogeneous and multi-layered phenomenon encompassing diverse occupations and destinations, the Welsh diaspora has often been portrayed as a simplistic and even insignificant phenomenon. The chapter thus explores patterns and process of Welsh emigration and settlement from the seventeenth century but focuses on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Welsh transnationality had its greatest force as both a demographic and an ideological phenomenon. The chapter examines the dynamics of cultural, linguistic and religious transplantation and change, and the adoption of dual or even multi-identities, be they, for example, Welsh and British or Welsh, British and American. It also probes the issues of victimhood, which surfaces in the collective justification for emigration of some but by no means all participants, and diasporic connection and consciousness, as obtained in the case of the Welsh print culture and its problematic assumptions regarding the homogeneity of the migrant group. These tensions are revealed by exploring how Welsh newspapers and magazines outside Wales (published in Welsh and English) forged and nurtured transnational communication at the same time as they defined and promoted a specific vision of what Welshness ought to embody in settler societies.

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Reconceptualising diaspora

Religion, persecution and identity in Britain and Ireland, 1558–1794

J.C.D. Clark

The English-speaking diaspora of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has often been assumed to have been a secular, economic phenomenon, driven by conditions at home and drawn by opportunities abroad. Yet, the subject thus defined was preceded by another very different one: the waves of Catholic emigration from Britain and Ireland driven by war and persecution, led by religious, educational and military opportunity abroad, and organising in exile to bring about a restoration and reconversion of the homeland. It was a movement effectively obscured by ‘victors’ history’ and the insistence of certain historians that Whiggism stood for religious toleration, not persecution. This chapter offers the first overview of this historical phenomenon, and uses it to propose a reconsideration of the concept of diaspora itself.

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Partners in empire

The Scottish diaspora since 1707

Tanja Bueltmann and Graeme Morton

This chapter utilises the concept of diaspora framed through identity to examine the nature and scope of Scotland’s partnership with the British Empire. We begin discussion with a section focused on exploring how identity is a critical measure and structuring principle of the Scottish diaspora. We argue that ‘diaspora’ is not only a term that denotes the movement of people, their transnational connections and continued homeland affinity – though these characteristics are essential to it – but is also in itself an identity concept. Patterns of movement and migrant pathways switch from the interest of the migration historian to that of the diaspora historian only when migrant flows have a bearing upon social action: it is only when we can locate diaspora agents (individual migrants or migrant collectives) in diaspora structures (in essence these are all structures that help establish a transnational community of Scots, real or imagined) that we reach that point. We maintain Scotland meets the diaspora paradigm, and indeed is paradigmatic in this respect, with an identity that is neither national nor transnational, but stands in its own ground in imperial partnership. The space for this identity to form – between the national and the transnational – is captured within that partnership, the structural and conceptual interaction between Scotland and the British Empire.

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Irish Jacobites in early modern Europe

Exile, adjustment and experience, 1691–1745

Éamonn Ó Ciardha

In the 300 years between English re-conquest of Ireland and the Act of Union, hundreds and thousands of Irish men and women flooded into Europe and North America. As well as impacting upon their host nations as soldiers, clerics, diplomats, teachers, writers, merchants, bankers, vagrants and outlaws, many of these men and women retained close contact with, and affection for, their native patrimony. Moreover, as royalists, Jacobites and republicans, they would play a crucial role in the emergence of various Irish nationalist, royalist and republican identities. Their various and varying careers and activities followed a broad trajectory testifying to their adaptability, mobility, and political and cultural fluidity. Their testimonies, trials and tribulations also shed valuable light on the exiles’ balance of political and confessional loyalties with their duties to their adopted countries. Traditionally, historians of the Irish diaspora have tended to prioritise the Irish presence in the French, Spanish, Imperial and American service, although more recent work has shed light on Irish military, socio-economic and mercantile networks in Northern Europe, the Baltic States and Russia. Although informed by recent research on Irish exiles in early modern Europe, this chapter moves discussion on from military history to an engagement with identity and ideology, particularly Catholicism, royalism, Jacobitism, nationalism and republicanism.

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British and Irish diasporas: societies, cultures and ideologies

Donald M. MacRaild, Tanja Bueltmann and J.C.D. Clark

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Donald M. MacRaild

The English were the largest group of emigrants in the British World. Yet, unlike the Scots or Irish, they are not ascribed attributes of ethnicity; they are not considered to be a diaspora. The oversight is shaped by a belief that the English assimilated rapidly into host societies that their forebears had, in any case, formed. The dominant Anglo-cultures of Britain’s former colonies in the Americas, Africa and Australasia means that the English are generally viewed as makers of empires not diasporas and as the national group against which other ethnic groups were defined. There is some merit in this view, but it underplays the equivalence of emigrants from all parts of Europe as they settled into alien, sometimes hostile environments, and certainly underplays similarities between Scots, Irish and English in respect of New World settlement. This chapter charts the major English emigration and settlement since 1800, and explores the cultural results through the prism of an awakening national consciousness shaped abroad rather than at home. It also explores some emigrants’ search for a folk-utopian future that was in keeping with the aspirations of the earliest settlers in the New World and was at odds with ideas of easy assimilation. The chapter proposes a rather different perspective from the usual one.