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TITLE
What are the similarities/differences between the emigrant experience today/early 19th century? - Andrew Mackillop
EXTERNAL ID
AB_SGI_07_ANDREW_MACKILLOP_Q_05
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Andrew Mackillop
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1497
KEYWORDS
conferences
emigration
lecturers
audio
audios
emigrantexperience

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As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad.

Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Andrew Mackillop answers the question:

'Could you list some of the similarities and differences between the emigrant experience today and, say, the early nineteenth century?'

'I suppose the similarities are, in many senses it's easy to talk about the differences, the similarities are, in a sense, more interesting. I suppose the similarities would be that, that emigration tends to be seen, you know, as a sort of, or can be- People like myself, professional historians, tend to treat it as a very inhuman process. It's all about the number of people that go, and the volume of people going to America, or Canada, or it's all numbers and statistics, or it's all about big push factors, and pull factors. But, of course, it's a very human experience, and I suppose the similarity would be that, in a sense, most migrants face the most difficult process, or the most difficult aspect of the process of emigration, is that decision to go. I'm struck by the fact that I've had a very itinerant, once I left Harris, I kind of moved to Glasgow, moved to Edinburgh, moved to St Andrews, moved to Aberdeen, and the more you move, the easier it is. But what always struck me was it was the most dramatic, psychological, personal break was the first step. In other words, what would have been very similar for somebody moving now, or somebody moving then, was that first step. Thereafter, once you're mobile, it's much more easier to go, 'Oh, I'm just moving again.' But, I don't, whether you lived in 1800 or 2000, that first mental step is probably what connects across time with the person moving from Inverness to Nova Scotia, or someone who's moving from Poland to Inverness today; it's that first decision would be very similar.

Differences? Communication. You, I can get, I can get back from Aberdeen to Harris in a couple of hours, well not in a couple of hours, seven or eight hours. It would take a couple of days. You can get across the Atlantic, back and forth. You can get to India in eleven hours - it took nine months at least. So, if you take that amount of time to move, your, the ability to come back, particularly from any emigration, is much less obvious, and available, and therefore when people moved in the beginning, in the early nineteenth century, they did it knowing there's a highly, there's a high chance they'll never come back. Move now and frankly you can top up your airmiles and get back in a matter of minutes. And I think that again drives home the idea that if you moved, if you emigrated in the early nineteenth century, you were doing it for a whole set of powerful reasons. Ironically, now we move and the consequences are not that significant because communication is so good, that actually it's easier to move. So the difference is now the ab-, this communication - staying in touch - and being able to move back and forth. That's the big difference, I think.'


BIOGRAPHY

Dr Andrew Mackillop is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen. Publications on Highland history include: 'More Fruitful than the Soil': Army, Empire and the Scottish Highlands, 1715-1815 (East Linton, 2000) and 'The Political Culture of the Scottish Highlands from Culloden to Waterloo', The Historical Journal, 46 (2003). His research interests currently centre upon the differing experiences of the Scots, Irish and Welsh in the Asian hemisphere of British imperialism during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

His most recent publication, 'A Union for Empire? Scotland, the English East India Company and the British Union', Scottish Historical Review, 87 (2008) will be followed at the end of this year by, "A Reticent People?': The Welsh in Asia, 1700-1815', in Huw Bowen (ed.), Wales and the British Empire (Manchester, 2009) and, as co-editor with Micheál O' Siochrú, Forging the State: European State Formation and the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 (Dundee, 2009).

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What are the similarities/differences between the emigrant experience today/early 19th century? - Andrew Mackillop

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

conferences; emigration; lecturers; audio; audios; emigrantexperience;

Am Baile

Scotland's Global Impact

As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad. <br /> <br /> Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Andrew Mackillop answers the question:<br /> <br /> 'Could you list some of the similarities and differences between the emigrant experience today and, say, the early nineteenth century?'<br /> <br /> 'I suppose the similarities are, in many senses it's easy to talk about the differences, the similarities are, in a sense, more interesting. I suppose the similarities would be that, that emigration tends to be seen, you know, as a sort of, or can be- People like myself, professional historians, tend to treat it as a very inhuman process. It's all about the number of people that go, and the volume of people going to America, or Canada, or it's all numbers and statistics, or it's all about big push factors, and pull factors. But, of course, it's a very human experience, and I suppose the similarity would be that, in a sense, most migrants face the most difficult process, or the most difficult aspect of the process of emigration, is that decision to go. I'm struck by the fact that I've had a very itinerant, once I left Harris, I kind of moved to Glasgow, moved to Edinburgh, moved to St Andrews, moved to Aberdeen, and the more you move, the easier it is. But what always struck me was it was the most dramatic, psychological, personal break was the first step. In other words, what would have been very similar for somebody moving now, or somebody moving then, was that first step. Thereafter, once you're mobile, it's much more easier to go, 'Oh, I'm just moving again.' But, I don't, whether you lived in 1800 or 2000, that first mental step is probably what connects across time with the person moving from Inverness to Nova Scotia, or someone who's moving from Poland to Inverness today; it's that first decision would be very similar.<br /> <br /> Differences? Communication. You, I can get, I can get back from Aberdeen to Harris in a couple of hours, well not in a couple of hours, seven or eight hours. It would take a couple of days. You can get across the Atlantic, back and forth. You can get to India in eleven hours - it took nine months at least. So, if you take that amount of time to move, your, the ability to come back, particularly from any emigration, is much less obvious, and available, and therefore when people moved in the beginning, in the early nineteenth century, they did it knowing there's a highly, there's a high chance they'll never come back. Move now and frankly you can top up your airmiles and get back in a matter of minutes. And I think that again drives home the idea that if you moved, if you emigrated in the early nineteenth century, you were doing it for a whole set of powerful reasons. Ironically, now we move and the consequences are not that significant because communication is so good, that actually it's easier to move. So the difference is now the ab-, this communication - staying in touch - and being able to move back and forth. That's the big difference, I think.'<br /> <br /> <br /> BIOGRAPHY<br /> <br /> Dr Andrew Mackillop is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen. Publications on Highland history include: 'More Fruitful than the Soil': Army, Empire and the Scottish Highlands, 1715-1815 (East Linton, 2000) and 'The Political Culture of the Scottish Highlands from Culloden to Waterloo', The Historical Journal, 46 (2003). His research interests currently centre upon the differing experiences of the Scots, Irish and Welsh in the Asian hemisphere of British imperialism during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. <br /> <br /> His most recent publication, 'A Union for Empire? Scotland, the English East India Company and the British Union', Scottish Historical Review, 87 (2008) will be followed at the end of this year by, "A Reticent People?': The Welsh in Asia, 1700-1815', in Huw Bowen (ed.), Wales and the British Empire (Manchester, 2009) and, as co-editor with Micheál O' Siochrú, Forging the State: European State Formation and the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 (Dundee, 2009).