Beyond the Wild Highlands


Jason Harrison (MSc student on Sustainable Mountain Development, UHI)

Date, time and venue:

Friday 4 November, 1200-1300
Room 619 (Studio 5) Goodlyburn, Perth College


There is a long-established discourse of the ‘wild Highlands’, which saw the Highlands of Scotland as a ‘heart of darkness’ that harbored a ‘Gaelic threat’ for several centuries until the Early Modern Era, then an ‘empty quarter’ to be exploited for wool, then a ‘wilderness’ to be maintained by its landowning elite for hunting. This last form of the discourse has been hegemonic since at least the mid-nineteenth century. This paper suggests that the discourse is now served by a powerful ‘discourse-coalition’ of the landowners, conservation interests and ‘landscape consumers’: a proposal that requires further research. The discourse of the wild Highlands circumscribes the question of what or whom the Highland landscape is for. One way to challenge it would be to provide an alternative to its memory of the Highlands as a landscape that has been wild ‘since time immemorial’. This paper closes with a proposal for a political project to do this; the construction of a new ‘popular memory’ of the Highland landscape.

If you would like to attend this seminar in person or VC/Jabber then please email Amy Woolvin.