'Clubbing Together' wins Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award!

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Katherine Pulman

We are thrilled to congratulate LUP author Dr Tanja Bueltmann on winning the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award for Clubbing Together: Ethnicity, Civility and Formal Sociability in the Scottish Diaspora to 1930, awarded in a ceremony on Thursday 26th November 2015. To celebrate this achievement, we're offering 40% off this book through our website, using the code CLUBBINGTOGETHER. You can find more information about the book here.

We also wanted to share Tanja's insights into the book and what conclusions she was able to draw from extensive research. So read on! 

 

  • What prompted you to write this book?

Ethnic associationalism - the habit of migrants from the same ethnic background to 'club together' in a group - has been, since the late 17th century, a critical component of life in the Scottish diaspora. Despite its importance, however, Scottish ethnic clubs and societies had not yet been explored in detail, and existing work was largely lacking a wider transnational perspective. My motivation to write the book, therefore, stemmed largely from this gap in knowledge. My interested in Scottish ethnic associationalism was driven too, however, by the fact that it is often cast as a simple romantic wallowing in memories. While this may, at times, have played a role, it was clear to me that Scottish clubs and societies fulfilled much wider roles in diverse communities around the world, ranging from the large-scale provision of support for Scottish migrants in distress to the organization of Caledonian Games.  I wanted to look at these wider roles to bring them to the fore of our discussions about the Scots abroad and their legacies. Another motivation for me to write the book was that Clubbing Together is my first book after the one stemming from my PhD, and, as such, writing it was an entirely different experience — one shaped by new freedoms, being liberated from the constraints of thesis regulations and requirements. Partly as a result of that freedom I consider Clubbing Together a bolder book, one in which I pushed the boat out more in terms of developing my ideas about the meaning of diaspora and the evolution and function of Scottish ethnic associations around the world. That holds true all the more because the book is, and in no small part, a real labour of love—not only in terms of the writing process and finished book, but also because it has been shaped significantly by my experiences in present-day Scottish communities around the globe, by how they have welcomed me, and shared their family stories and materials with me. While these are not necessarily part of the book itself, they give my work, and therefore also this book, much deeper meaning.

  • What is the main argument of the book?

Clubbing Together provides the first global study to capture the wider relevance of the Scots’ associationalism. Its principal argument is that associations and formal sociability are a key to explaining how Scottish migrants negotiated their ethnicity in the diaspora, while also using it to connect to social structures in diverse settlements. Moving beyond the traditional nineteenth-century settler dominions, the book offers a unique comparative focus, bringing together Scotland’s near diaspora in England and Ireland with that in North America, Africa, and Australasia to assess the evolution of Scottish ethnic associations, as well as their diverse roles as sites of memory and expressions of civility. Ultimately, the book reveals that the structures offered by Scottish associations engaged directly with the local, New World contexts, developing distinct characteristics that cannot be subsumed under one simplistic label — that of an overseas ‘national society’.

  • Did you find that the associationalism of the Scottish diaspora helped or hindered their integration into their new homelands?

There were always cases where Scots did not integrate well into the societies in which they settled. Sometimes those affected by this lack of integration used ethnic clubs and societies to counter their isolation. By and large, however, Scottish ethnic associations aided the integration of Scots around the world. This was the case because these associations, although replete with many Scottish cultural markers and drawing on Scottish traditions, usually also served a range of wider roles in communities and wider society. As a result, those Scots who were actively engaged in ethnic associations were able to use their ethnicity for wider civic purposes, which greatly aided their standing and also their level of integration.

  • Where there any marked differences in the activities of those Scots who resettled within the UK, compared with those who travelled further afield?

There were always cases where Scots did not integrate well into the societies in which they settled. Sometimes those affected by this lack of integration used ethnic clubs and societies to counter their isolation. By and large, however, Scottish ethnic associations aided the integration of Scots around the world. This was the case because these associations, although replete with many Scottish cultural markers and drawing on Scottish traditions, usually also served a range of wider roles in communities and wider society. As a result, those Scots who were actively engaged in ethnic associations were able to use their ethnicity for wider civic purposes, which greatly aided their standing and also their level of integration.

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