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Linking local and migrant communities in Scotlandscreen-shot-2015-03-09-at-16-40-54

16 February 2015, 4.00-6.30pm

Scottish Universities Insight Institute
Strathclyde Campus, Collins Building, 22 Richmond Street,
Glasgow G1 1XQ,
Email: info@scottishinsight.ac.u, Tel: 0141 548 4051/5930

Link to the Blog

Polish and Scottish migration, in both directions, as discussed in a previous roundtable and a seminar, has a long tradition going back to the sixteenth century. A large Polonia settled during and after the Second World War, and again after Poland's EU accession in 2004. Other migrant groups, such as Lithuanians, Latvians and Russians, have come to Scotland due to a demand for specific professions, such as in mining and fishing. More recently, Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, Bulgarians and Czechs have also moved to Scotland, albeit in much lower numbers than the Poles. In contrast to the Poles who came after the war and did not feel any motivation to return to their countries under communist rule, the post-2004/2007 new migrant generations can return to their native countries and often take that option, making this partly a temporary migration. However, many who come with their families settle permanently. Negative press and political pressures that whip up resentment against migrants risk alienating people who have contributed to the Scottish economy, boosted the number of young people in this country, and enriched culture, the food industry, churches and education both locally and nationally. But there are tensions that should not be ignored. Pressure on schools, the NHS, loneliness and psychological problems of migrants who feel excluded by language and tradition, competition for low-paid or part-time jobs among students and locals, conflict on council estates where migrants are sometimes assigned housing (although most rent privately) – none of these subjects should remain taboo. How can mutual understanding and peaceful living together in linked communities be best promoted? Knowledge about the "other", their traditions, customs, food, holidays, and the discussion of key events in history can help to overcome prejudices.

Evidence shows that the story has generally been a successful one: Poles and migrants from other new EU member states have been readily absorbed into Britain's labour market. They are tolerated, even welcomed, locally. Several cities and regions have gone from being ageing, with declining skills to being young, with great aspirations. Areas with many east European migrants have seen a drop in property crime. Britain got younger and better-educated Poles than Germany or America. Many are overqualified for their jobs, and ought to move into more appropriate ones as their social networks become stronger. Ilona Korzeniowska, editor of the Polish Express, a London-based newspaper, suggests Bulgarians and Romanians may fill jobs no longer of interest to Poles (source: The Economist, 14/12/2013). This raises not only economic considerations:

  • To what extent is the Polish model appropriate for other East European migrants' experience of settlement, cohabitation and integration?
  • Should the example of the largest migrant community, the Poles, be replicated and usefully applied to other migrant communities and across Scottish localities?
  • How are approaches to integration reflected in the specific regions and localities in Scotland that have experienced migrant influx? Does the heritage of other EE migrant groups make integration in Scotland less or more likely, and is it discussed at all?
  • How do the Scottish regions and urban centres benefit from East Central European migrants?
  • Where do cultural clashes and misunderstandings originate, and how do they reflect practices of settlement?
  • What role does the local economy and its oportunities play for the way that migrants are accepted/integrated, and how may cultural expressions be translated into economic resources?

Speakers and discussants were representatives from migrant communities and organisations, as well as Scottish public bodies, charities, political institutions and academics, including:

  • Prof. Vytis Čiubrinskas (Social Anthropology, Vytautas Magnus University Kaunas, LT)
  • Dr Neringa Lubininienė (Vytautas Magnus University Kaunas/European Commission)
  • Lorraine Cook (COSLA's Migration, Population and Diversity Team, Aberdeen)
  • Anna Ruszel (Director Polish Professionals Forum in Europe C.I.C., Edinburgh)
  • Dr Emilia Piętka (University of the West of Scotland, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network)Martin Fell (owner of Tchai-ovna, Glasgow, business opportunities and food)
  • Martin Fell (owner of Tchai-ovna, Glasgow, business opportunities and food)

The event was chaired by Prof. Karin Friedrich (University of Aberdeen). Her blog on the event is now live.

2.suiilogoThis event is part of the
Linking Northern Communities

supported by the SUII


IRC Seminars 2014/15

Semester 1

8 October 2014, 4.30pm, (MBG20)

Andreas Hackl
Journalist and Researcher, School for Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh 
Culture and Power among Palestinians in Tel Aviv: Intercultural Perspectives


22 October 2014, 4.30 pm (MBG20)

Alison Phipps
Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow
Are Languages Intangible Cultural Heritage? Perspectives fromTourism, Migration and Family Reunion


19 November 2014, 4.30 pm (MBG14)

Katherine Lloyd
Research Associate, International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University
Fostering an inclusive sense of place? Rethinking the Impact of Museums in Scotland in an Age of Migrations


10 December 2014, 2.00 pm (BEC)

Ethnographers' Gathering (2)


IRC Seminars 2014/15 Semester 2

All welcome!
Attendance is free, but places may be limited.
Please register in advance, using the links below.

17 February 2015 – 4.30 pm [MBG20]
Dr Neringa Liubinienė
Center of Social Anthropology, Vytautas Magnus University Kaunas, Lithuania
Being a Transmigrant in the Contemporary World: Lithuanian Migrants' Quests for Identity

18 February 2015 – 3.30 pm [EM336]
Dr Kathryn Burnett
School of Media, Culture and Society, University of the West of Scotland
"Muddying the pristine waters": reflecting on Scotland's remote island enterprise as cultural production texts
Registration closed

11 March 2015 – 4.30 pm [MBG20]
Prof. Ian Baxter
Suffolk Business School, University Campus Suffolk
Global versus local - Understanding the Role of Management in Heritage Tourism
Registration closed

18 March 2015 – 3.30 pm [MBG20]
Prof. Thomas Hoerber
ESSCA, École de Management, Angers, France
The Development of a European Environmental Conscience
Registration closed


Joint events with CTISS

Prof. Brian James Baer Kent State University, USA

23 March 2015 - 12.15 pm [Postgraduate Centre, 201]
Introduction to Academic Publishing

24 March 2015 - 4.15 pm [Postgraduate Centre, 201]
Framed: Translating the Life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf

For further details, click here.


22 April 2015 – 3.30 pm [BEC – Esmee Fairbairn building]
Dr Angeliki Monnier
Département Métiers du Multimédia et de l'Internet, Université de Haute Alsace, France
Understanding National Identity: Between Culture and Institutions

6 May - 12.15 pm [BEC – Esmee Fairbairn building]
Dr Philip McDermott
School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies, University of Ulster
Language Rights, Migrants and the Council of Europe: A Failed Response to a Multilingual Continent? 

Registration closed

6 May – 2.00 pm [BEC – Esmee Fairbairn building]
Prof. Tim Ingold
Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
Registration closed
More details

For further details, please contact Prof. Ullrich Kockel

Waterscape Heritages

A one-day workshop entitled "Waterscape Heritages" was held in Edinburgh on Thursday, 3 July 2014, organised jointly by the IRC, the University of Ulster's Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute, and Learning for Sustainability Scotland. Taking the idea of waterscapes (rivers, lakes, seas and so on) as a conceptual basis, and diverse heritages (natural / cultural, tangible / intangible, and so on) as thematic threads to explore, the workshop wove together different disciplinary and artistic approaches to, and insights into, the wisdom that "sits in places" (Basso 1996). The meeting brought together researchers from the "Stories of the Sea" project at the University of Ulster, covering the coastal areas in the North of Ireland and the West of Scotland; participants of last year's "Source to Sea" workshop on the heritage of the Clyde in Glasgow; participants of the IRC's recent "Doing Things Differently" workshop, organized by Heriot-Watt University's Intercultural Research Centre jointly with Learning for Sustainability Scotland; and others interested in exploring the idea of "Waterscape Heritages".

For further details, please contact Prof. Ullrich Kockel.

"Doing Things Differently"

Intercultural Research and Learning for Sustainability

9 April 2014

14:00-18:00 Heriot-Watt University (Riccarton Campus)

Keynote Thinker: Alastair McIntosh

'Sustainability' is commonly perceived as environmental issues by another name – an unhelpful editing of a concept where environmental and social issues are inextricably linked. At the root of every environmental issue you will find issues of justice, equality and power relationships. Culture and ecology are mutually dependent and inseparable in achieving sustainability.

Our perception of what we can or cannot do is shaped by deeply held cultural attitudes, dependent to a large extent on how we think collectively – as a social class , a circle of friends, an ethnic group or an academic discipline. Cultural discourse is as much a part of our collective journey towards sustainability as the natural sciences and technological innovation.

This interdisciplinary colloquium was organised by Heriot-Watt University's Intercultural Research Centre in collaboration with Learning for Sustainability Scotland, a United Nations recognised Regional Centre of Expertise. Together we looked at challenges arising from different cultural perspectives on sustainability. The seminar explored areas where intercultural research – research that takes place between and across different cultures – can support learning for sustainability in a wide range of spheres: from the natural and built environment to social and economic issues.

Alastair McIntosh is an independent scholar, activist, writer, speaker and broadcaster from the Isle of Lewis with a wide range of academic connections that have included a visiting professorship and fellowship at the universities of Strathclyde and Ulster, and he is currently an Honorary Senior Fellow in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, a Fellow of the Schumacher Society and a Research Fellow at the School of Divinity (New College), University of Edinburgh. Other roles include serving as a founding director of the GalGael Trust in Govan and special advisor to the Board of the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) of which he was once the director. 

 Read the report in the Heriot-Watt News Archive.


Seminar Series 2013-14


Venue: Heriot Watt University: Mary Burton Building, room 20 (MB.G20 - Map)

John Joseph, Edinburgh University

Naturalised Natives: Interpreting Identities and Face in Linguistic Interaction
Wed., 23 Oct. 2013, 4.30-6.00pm

James Costa, University of Oslo

Language Standards and Standard Language in Scotland: the Predicament of Introducing the Scots Language in a Primary School
Wed., 20 Nov. 2013,4.30-6.00pm

Kerstin Pfeiffer, Heriot-Watt University

Just Anger? Violence and Vengeance on the Medieval Civic Stage
Wed., 27 Nov. 2013, 4.30-6.00pm

Orvar Löfgren, Lund University

The Messiness of Research: Everyday Routines and Rituals of Academic Work
Wed., 4 Dec. 2013, 4.30-6.00pm

Alexandre Duchêne, University of Fribourg

Unrewarded Language Work: Exploiting Linguistic Resources and Speakers in the Contemporary Workplace
Wed., 22 Jan. 2014, 4.30-6.00pm

Dawn Archer, Lancaster University

Using Corpus Linguistics as a Way in to Historical (Courtroom) Texts
Wed., 19 Feb. 2014, 4.30-6.00pm

Doctoral Training Workshop 2013

The autumn 2013 workshop of the international doctoral training programme "Transformations in European Societies" took place at Heriot-Watt from 28 October to 2 November.

The IRC's Emma Hill presenting her research project

A programme is available here.

The trailer for a blockbuster movie based on the workshop can be viewed here.

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