Estimated at anywhere between 30 and 40 million, Scotland has the biggest diaspora of any nation. A large proportion ended up in North America, much of it in Canada but an even bigger number in the USA. Duncan Sim, a Reader in sociology at the University of the West of Scotland, has produced a book that looks at that diaspora, and in doing so he has produced that rarest of beasts: a book aimed at academics which is also easily accessible (for the most part) to the lay reader. True, there is some pointy-headed and rather dense musings on the nature of diaspora, but once you get past that then this is a pretty enjoyable read, not to mention one which answers several important questions. As a sociologist, Sim's interest is with the living, so he keeps the historical content to a minimum. Instead, the core of the book is made up of interviews with members of the Scottish diaspora in America, which is where things begin to get interesting. The most obvious point of interest is the fact that these interviews are split into two: on the one hand there are the Scots who crossed The Pond generations ago, many of them around the time of the Clearances - though there are some whose parents migrated as recently as the 1940s or 1950s; and on the other there are those Scots who were born and brought up in the mother country and who are first generation migrants. The way in which Sim draws out the huge differences between the two groups is deftly done and highly instructive. Scottish Field
About the Author
Duncan Sim is Reader in Sociology at the University of the West of Scotland and has undertaken extensive research on issues of identity and ethnicity.