Political and economic events over the last decade have begun radically to reshape the cultural identities of Ireland and Scotland.
In Ireland, the dynamism of the 'Celtic Tiger' economy has catapulted the nation from being one of Europe's poorest to one of its most advanced. In Northern Ireland, the 'peace process' has reshaped not only future relations between religious communities, but the cultural landscape of those communities by giving equal status to Gaelic and to Ulster Scots. And in Scotland, devolution has been accompanied by what has been described as a cultural renaissance that makes the past twenty years one of the richest in the country's history.
At the same time, many people around the world have become increasingly conscious of, and assertive of, their Irish or Scottish identities - as evidenced, for instance, in the Tartan Day celebrations in the United States and St. Patrickıs Day commemorations in Australia or New Zealand. Do these
diasporic identities, however, have any continuing relationship with the identities of the nations to which they are attached? Or are national identities themselves being transformed by feedback from their diaporas? Or are alternative 'national' identities developing which may claim to express the same national past but in fact envisage it very different ways? Should the notion of the 'nation' be extended to encompass its diasporas or should it be narrowed down so that it does not exclude those who are themselves
immigrants within its boundaries? What is a national history or a national culture in this world of mobile populations.
These are some of the general issues which it is hoped will be addressed in this international conference to be held in Wellington 27 - 30 March 2008. It is being jointly organised by Victoria Universityıs Irish-Scottish Studies Programme and the University of Aberdeenıs AHRC Centre for Irish and
Dr Brad Patterson
Irish-Scottish Studies Programme
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington New Zealand
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