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    “Homecoming Scotland” welcomes Scottish diaspora

    By Noreen Bowden | December 2, 2008

    Deomonstrating the increasing efforts of nations to reach out to their global communities, Scotland is welcoming home its diaspora this year with a series of events comprising “Homecoming Scotland”. It’s Scotland’s first-ever “homecoming year”, and organisers are celebrating poet Robbie Burn’s 250th birthday as a focal point. They are also highlighting “some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage.”

    It’s a dynamic programme: there’s a “Celtic Connections” programme featuring a concert of traditional songs that have crossed the Atlantic with Scottish and Irish emigrants over the last 300 years, as well as a Jamaican carnival celebrating Burns Night. The website also includes information on the contributions of the Ulster Scots around the globe. May will be “Whisky Month”. The world’s biggest clan gathering will take place in July in Edinburgh. There is also a “My Special Place” competition, inviting visitors to photograph their favourite place.

    The director of the Scottish Centre of Diaspora studies, Tom Devine, however, has criticised the event for focusing too heavily on the North American tourist market.  Noting the scale of Scottish emigration throughout 700 years to mainland Europe and Ulster, Professor Devine told the Times,

    They should have had an over-arching umbrella statement about the sheer scale of migration. This was a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the world and to the Scottish people themselves what is a remarkable global experience. If you go back to the 13th century, right up to the present, the really enormous Scottish diaspora has been to Europe, but Europe hasn’t been invited to this.

    Professor Devine also noted, “American Scots have not retained the same level of expatriate ethnic identity as Irish Americans. They assimilated quickly.”

    Homecoming Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative managed by EventScotland in partnership with VisitScotland.

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    Topics: Diaspora policy | No Comments »