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TITLE
What are the similarities/differences between the emigrant experience today/early 19th century? - Eric Richards
EXTERNAL ID
AB_SGI_05_ERIC_RICHARDS_Q_05
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Eric Richards
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
41039
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, Professor Eric Richards answers the question:

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

'Well, the thing about emigration is that it is an enormous phenomenon and it contains millions of lives, so it depends what you're talking about. In the early nineteenth century there are increasing mass migration out of Britain, from all parts, and it eventually builds up to very large numbers indeed. In the early nineteenth century we have many rural folk leaving Britain and quite a - an increasing number of urban people leaving. Now, some of those rural folk, from the Highlands who I've looked at coming into Australia, really were very wealthy people, very tough characters, very entrepreneurial captains of rural industry; pretty pushy characters, in fact, many of them. Others were perfectly ordinary, middle of the road people from rural Scotland, rural Ireland. Some were extremely poor and they were - I would call economic refugees - who collected up in the mid-nineteenth century by the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society. Some of them have to be fed properly and especially to acclimatise them - prepare them for the journey - and they are extremely, in extremely poor condition, travelling to Australia, and they arrive in conditions which are really very difficult.

And it occurred to me at once stage that they were not entirely unlike some of the mid-twentieth or the late-twentieth century migrants coming to Australia, and elsewhere, as boat people; that they are so poor, they are so poorly looked upon by many people who are receiving them, they receive such a frigid reception, and they have such tough times, that they are rather similar to some of those coming in these days as boat people, as refugees from awful circumstances. But that's a tiny narrow segment of the colossal- You know, we're talking about fifty two million people leaving Europe over the long century so it's a massive story.'


BIOGRAPHY

Eric Richards is Professor of History at Flinders University, Adelaide, having previously taught at Stirling and Adelaide Universities. His specialist subject is the Highland Clearances and his acclaimed biography of Patrick Sellar was awarded the prize for Scottish History Book of the Year (1999). His most recent books are 'Britiannia's Children. Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600', (London and New York, Hambledon and London, 2004); 'Debating the Highland Clearances' (Edinburgh University Press 2007) and 'Destination Australia: Migration since 1901' (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press 2008).

Image copyright: Susy Macaulay

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

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, Professor Eric Richards 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 /> 'Well, the thing about emigration is that it is an enormous phenomenon and it contains millions of lives, so it depends what you're talking about. In the early nineteenth century there are increasing mass migration out of Britain, from all parts, and it eventually builds up to very large numbers indeed. In the early nineteenth century we have many rural folk leaving Britain and quite a - an increasing number of urban people leaving. Now, some of those rural folk, from the Highlands who I've looked at coming into Australia, really were very wealthy people, very tough characters, very entrepreneurial captains of rural industry; pretty pushy characters, in fact, many of them. Others were perfectly ordinary, middle of the road people from rural Scotland, rural Ireland. Some were extremely poor and they were - I would call economic refugees - who collected up in the mid-nineteenth century by the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society. Some of them have to be fed properly and especially to acclimatise them - prepare them for the journey - and they are extremely, in extremely poor condition, travelling to Australia, and they arrive in conditions which are really very difficult. <br /> <br /> And it occurred to me at once stage that they were not entirely unlike some of the mid-twentieth or the late-twentieth century migrants coming to Australia, and elsewhere, as boat people; that they are so poor, they are so poorly looked upon by many people who are receiving them, they receive such a frigid reception, and they have such tough times, that they are rather similar to some of those coming in these days as boat people, as refugees from awful circumstances. But that's a tiny narrow segment of the colossal- You know, we're talking about fifty two million people leaving Europe over the long century so it's a massive story.'<br /> <br /> <br /> BIOGRAPHY<br /> <br /> Eric Richards is Professor of History at Flinders University, Adelaide, having previously taught at Stirling and Adelaide Universities. His specialist subject is the Highland Clearances and his acclaimed biography of Patrick Sellar was awarded the prize for Scottish History Book of the Year (1999). His most recent books are 'Britiannia's Children. Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600', (London and New York, Hambledon and London, 2004); 'Debating the Highland Clearances' (Edinburgh University Press 2007) and 'Destination Australia: Migration since 1901' (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press 2008).<br /> <br /> Image copyright: Susy Macaulay