The place of Scotland's European past

Ichijo, Atsuko (2009) The place of Scotland's European past. Litteraria Pragensia: studies in literature and culture, 19(38), pp. 60-74. ISSN (print) 0862-8424


The ‘Scotland and Europe’ theme and an appeal to Scotland’s past affinity with continental Europe emerged as a subtle but significant aspect of Scottish nationalism in the 1990s. Largely thanks to the Scottish National Party’s adoption of the ‘Independence in Europe’ policy in 1988, ‘Europe’ entered in the Scottish public discourse and became a fixture. While instrumental approaches to ‘Europe’ prevailed amongst political actors, other actors embraced ‘Europe’ in a much less instrumental manner, thus cementing the place of Scotland’s European past in Scottish public discourse. ‘Europe’ became one dimension with which the Scots could differentiate themselves from the English in their pursuit of asserting the distinctiveness of Scottish identity. In a devolved Scotland, the ‘Scotland and Europe’ theme and Scotland’s European past appear to be taken-for-granted. This can be seen in the devolutionary settlement which has institutionalised a deeper relationship between Scotland and European institutions and evidenced in the latest European Parliamentary election in 2009. A direct appeal to Scotland’s European past has almost disappeared from political discourse in a devolved Scotland, which suggests that the ‘Scotland and Europe’ theme has attained a banal status waiting to be mobilised at the next opportunity.

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