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World What Would Independence Mean for Scotland's Racial Minorities

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, May 21, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    by Nasar Meer

    On Edinburgh's Royal Mile, the ancient road running from its 12th-century castle at the top down to the Enric Miralles-designed parliament at its bottom, you'll find some unlikely proponents of Scottish nationalism. Sporting tartan turbans and proudly brandishing the Saltire, the Sikh small-shop owners are sometimes viewed curiously by tourists and festival goers. The example is symbolic because at a time when Scottish identity is being appropriated in various arenas, it does raise the question of where ethnic and racial minorities fit into a country dominated by myths and legends of an ostensibly "white" nation dating back millennia.

    Another way of putting this is to say that whatever else "Britishness" might be, we know that it's not the sole preserve of white Christians, but we're less sure about "Scottishness" (as we might be of "Englishness" if we looked close enough). Of course it depends where you go in Scotland, as it does in Britain as a whole, but surveys tell us that the Scots are no more exclusionary in their attitudes than the English.

    With only around 2% ethnic minorities, however, it's a theory of tolerance that is yet to be tested and, as any student of nationalism will tell you, there's a fine line between inclusive and exclusive national identities. Until now though, and sectarian issues aside, it appears that Scotland's "other" has firmly been the English – what happens when it starts to look more inward?

    Perhaps with the exception of Herman Rodrigues' 2006 exhibition on Scotland's Asian communities, little is said of the "new Scots". It is nevertheless a matter of enormous pride to the SNP that the only ethnic minority MSPs have been members of their party, the most recent being Humza Yousaf who earlier this month swore his oath of allegiance in Urdu, wearing traditional Pakistani clothes supplemented with a band of tartan. Elsewhere, less "visible" minorities, such as the Italians and now eastern Europeans, have stitched themselves into the fabric of Scotland's major cities, as indeed have Chinese groups and other east Asians. Hence one of Edinburgh's most loved Scottish folk musicians is the Kirkcaldy-born Andy Chung.

    Yet the most fascinating feature of Scottish nationalism is also the least noticed: there's a mighty difference between a nation's identity and people's national identities, which reveals itself in the saying that while England owned the British empire, it was the Scots who ran it. No wonder then that the Indian military has a Scottish tartan in its formal regalia (3rd battalion, the Sikh Regiment, traces its lineage from "Rattray's Sikhs" named after Captain Thomas Rattray of the 64th Regiment of Bengal Infantry). Whatever else people in Scotland think makes up their idea of Scottishness, the identity of Scotland as a historical nation cannot really be understood apart from that of India and other places of empire.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/20/independence-scotland-racial-minorities
     

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  3. spnadmin

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    Just looking in from the outside. Though my mind tells me that Scotland is part of UK, there has never been a time in my life when I did not think of Scotland as fiercely its own nation, its own separate place, with its own special language and unique identity. The questions raised in this article are good. Modern history of Scotland shows her to be clearly a conquered people and place, and one that would never let go of her centuries-old sense of nationhood. No matter how brutal the oppression was. Now the worm turns a bit, and the question is asked. Which lesson do conquered peoples learn from oppression: to honor the liberty of others or to suppress it?
     

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