Scottish Network for Nineteenth-Century European Cultures


Why include the nineteenth century in the ScARF Framework? Material objects in a broad sense, including industrial heritage, landscape, buildings, articles of consumption (clothing, packaging, household wares), but also documents and printed texts, are all that remain from a century whose very last surviving witnesses have very recently disappeared. In order to understand how people inhabited Scotland in the nineteenth century, we must unearth these remains and interpret them, so that they may speak to us; and yet this is not an inward-looking exercise. Moreover, it is important for our understanding of the Enlightenment’s medium and long-term legacy we see playing out in the here and now; for how we consider the effects of the onset of modernity in the late nineteenth century; for how we interpret the accelerated economic and social change which laid the foundations for developments, frictions and contradictions in the twentieth and twenty-first century—including the cementing of the Union, but also the ever-present stirrings, in the words of Graeme Morton, of a ‘Unionist nationalism’ of Scottish political identity. Scotland’s transformative interventions, for instance in shipbuilding, textiles, mining and technology, as well as in philosophy, science, literature, and the arts, were shaped by dynamic, complex forces and connections with the people of Scotland’s neighbours and beyond, reaching into the past, and projecting ourselves into the future. This Framework aims to incentivise research into the multipolar exchanges between historical nineteenth-century Scottish and European cultures. It engages existing research to identify new avenues for future scholarly investigation, but also in Scotland’s relationship with Europe, thus contributing to knowledge and understanding about Scotland’s international cultural heritage, and its relationship with, and place in Europe in effective and targeted ways.

The continent of Europe highlighted in black. ©


The Framework is part of the Scottish Archaeology Research Framework (ScARF) and its production was led by Dr. Katharine Mitchell (University of Strathclyde) and Dr. Simon Gilmour (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland), with core group members Ms Julie Holder (University of Glasgow & Society of Antiquaries of Scotland), Dr. Manon Mathias, Dr. Henriette Partzsch, and Dr. Mike Rapport (all of the University of Glasgow). The three workshops and public event that informed the Framework were funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and this resulting Framework is generously co-funded by the Society for Antiquaries of Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The workshops focused in particular on connectedness, encounters, and exchanges between Scotland and Europe’s peoples, places, built environments, imagined spaces and material cultures during the long nineteenth century, whose parameters for our purposes begin with the granting of the Royal Charter of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780, to the beginning of the First World War. Workshop One addressed cross-cultural literary exchanges and identity formations; Workshop Two explored networks between producers, performers, and consumers of culture; Workshop Three discussed exchanges on philosophy, technology, science and health. The public event—held at the National Museum of Scotland—brought together the directors of distinguished nineteenth-century societies and centres in the UK, as well as a representative for the independent Scottish EU think tank, the Scottish Centre on European Relations. Professor Sir Tom Devine delivered a keynote lecture on ‘How Highlandism Conquered Europe: from Sir Walter Scott to Brexit’, and ongoing research activities were discussed to identify new approaches to, and perspectives on studying Scotland in the long nineteenth century.


After an Introduction, the Research Context on Scotland’s connections with European countries in the long nineteenth century is critically assessed. Thereafter, the Framework is structured around the following topics: Framework Strategy, and Research Recommendations (Principles, Problems, and New Approaches and Projects). A select Bibliography of published work is provided. Scottish-European connections are in many ways a touchstone for wider attitudes to understanding global relations and cultural practices because they offer a microcosm for many current issues playing out elsewhere on the planet. They invite—indeed, demand—interdisciplinary and cross-cutting approaches. The Framework’s structure is designed to draw out a holistic understanding of the value and significance of Scotland’s relationships with European ‘nations-in-the-making’ in the long nineteenth century, and enable us to reflect on what this knowledge then offers us for now. This emphasis on value provides the best hope of making a difference for the future. To this end, the Framework identifies research principles, problems, practices, and ideas for projects, some enhancing existing initiatives and others suggesting new directions. Multipolarity, cross-cultural interconnection and the study of Modern Languages recur as particularly helpful lenses for exploring relationships in the past and present between Scotland and Europe in order to prepare us for a better understanding of the future in the here and now.





This framework was created as a result of a series of workshops funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which focused on exploring the inter-connectivity of people and culture in Scotland and Europe during the long nineteenth century

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland