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TITLE
Why is it important to study the past? - Eric Richards
EXTERNAL ID
AB_SGI_05_ERIC_RICHARDS_Q_08
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Eric Richards
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
41042
KEYWORDS
conferences
emigration
lecturers
audio
audios
studypast

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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:

'Why do you think it's important to study the past?'

'I think getting a perspective on the past is very important for modern societies and for all of us individually and collectively. We need to know about the direction of society and you need a long perspective on that, and that's what historians are equipped to provide, even though it's always highly debateable. I think history gives us a view of the tensions that arise from the flux of change and how people cope with change over long time, and if you look at that over the centuries that's hugely informative and enriching. I think that it ought to widen the mind; history ought to have that effect because it should show us that particular groups, particular nations, particular races are not exceptional in many respects; that we're not necessarily always going to be saying that certain types of people are, have particular characteristics because they're often characters which overlap and are international or universal.

So, I would say that history ought to get us away from stereotypes. Sometimes it has the opposite effect, of course, but in principal, and ideally, I think that it would be better if we emphasised the, some of the commonalities in experiences between peoples, between nations. So, concentrating on the Scottish impact, for instance, is an interesting exercise, and maybe a little bit controversial in the sense that it tends to make it sound exceptional, and that sort of patriotic duty about emphasising it, which isn't necessarily the best product of, for studying history.'


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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Why is it important to study the past? - Eric Richards

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

conferences; emigration; lecturers; audio; audios; studypast;

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 /> 'Why do you think it's important to study the past?' <br /> <br /> 'I think getting a perspective on the past is very important for modern societies and for all of us individually and collectively. We need to know about the direction of society and you need a long perspective on that, and that's what historians are equipped to provide, even though it's always highly debateable. I think history gives us a view of the tensions that arise from the flux of change and how people cope with change over long time, and if you look at that over the centuries that's hugely informative and enriching. I think that it ought to widen the mind; history ought to have that effect because it should show us that particular groups, particular nations, particular races are not exceptional in many respects; that we're not necessarily always going to be saying that certain types of people are, have particular characteristics because they're often characters which overlap and are international or universal. <br /> <br /> So, I would say that history ought to get us away from stereotypes. Sometimes it has the opposite effect, of course, but in principal, and ideally, I think that it would be better if we emphasised the, some of the commonalities in experiences between peoples, between nations. So, concentrating on the Scottish impact, for instance, is an interesting exercise, and maybe a little bit controversial in the sense that it tends to make it sound exceptional, and that sort of patriotic duty about emphasising it, which isn't necessarily the best product of, for studying history.'<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