'Your wee bit hill and glen': the cultural politics of the Scottish Highlands, c. 1918–1945
thesisposted on 26.10.2010, 13:18 by Hayden Lorimer
This thesis examines the struggles for moral, cultural and political control of the Scottish Highlands during the period, c.1918-1945. Using library and archival material it demonstrates how a range of contesting landscape narratives, each based on an amalgam of myth, ideal and reality, were constructed for a region holding a peculiarly intense significance in the Scottish and British consciousness. By dissecting four inter-related debates about where, and to whom, the Highlands belonged, the thesis considers several overarching themes; questions of nationhood, citizenship, tradition, modernity and the division of power in society are all addressed. Firstly, it examines the creation of a sophisticated landowning mythology to counter increasingly vociferous public opposition to the elite sporting industry. Secondly, it explores how this landowning hegemony was threatened by the rise of a populist outdoor movement, and asserts that only through steady institutionalisation and the discrete involvement of reactionary interests was the vibrant recreative community emasculated. Thirdly, it analyses conflicts over the conceptualisation of the Highlands as a location suitable for modern industry, infrastuctural improvement and economic development. Examples of proposed hydro-electric power schemes are used to frame key arguments of opposition and promotion. Fourthly, it investigates the campaign mounted to re-appropriate the Highland land resource as a means to inspire agrarian and cultural revival. The role of Scotland's nationalist literary community is determined as crucial to the creation of a sophisticated, if ultimately idealistic, ruralist mythology. Despite the emergence of these oppositional narratives the thesis contends that the persistence of a feudal, sporting tradition in the Highlands reflected both the immutability and ingenuity of the established landowning hegemony. Significantly, dominant cultural constructions of Highland landscape and identity originating during the inter-war period retain much of their power to the present day.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Politics and International Studies