Yonder Awa: slavery and distancing strategies in Scottish literature

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter takes its place in a predominantly historical collection of essays to consider the role of literature in the forgetting and remembering of slavery in Scottish culture. It opens by considering a postcolonial exchange between Malika Booker and Walter Scott which centres on the phrase 'yonder awa'. This chapter borrows the phrase to review a number of 'distancing strategies' (Laurajane Smith) which have removed slavery to the margins of Scottish national memory. Theoretically, this chapter considers the motivations for and the functioning of Scottish literary amnesia; it also keeps in view 'multiple slaveries' even as it explores the specificities of Scottish connections with chattel slavery. It outlines the current 'memory boom' in 21st century literature, and surveys the continual submergence and re-emergence of slavery in a variety of Scottish literature from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This includes Tobias Smollett, James Grainger, Henry MacKenzie, Robert Burns, Hector MacNeill, Marly, Scott, and Neil Munro; as well as Jackie Kay, James Robertson and Chris Dolan. It proceeds to consider the appearance of Scottishness in a selection of Caribbean writing from such as Derek Walcott, Milton McFarlane, and Fred D'Aguiar in the form of military men. Finally, it closes with the role of (absentee) fathers in the likes of Joan Anim-Addo, Jamaica Kincaid, and Barbara Lalla. The final word goes to Scottish-Jamaican playwright Lou Prendergast whose plays interweave the historical and the personal: Scotland's history of slavery, her strained relationship with her father, and her experience growing up mixed-race in Clackmannanshire. Chapter in: Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past: the Caribbean Connection. Editors: Devine TM. 41-61. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 22 Oct 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRecovering Scotland's Slavery Past
    Subtitle of host publicationThe Caribbean Connection
    EditorsTom M. Devine
    Place of PublicationEdinburgh
    PublisherEdinburgh University Press
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)9781474408813 , 9780748698097
    ISBN (Print)9781474408806 , 9780748698080
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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