Indyref: Five Years On (21 September)


logoINDYREF: 5 YEARS ON is a free public event reflecting on 2014 and the ‘cultural debate’ in particular.

How did Scottish writers contribute to the visions and vocabularies of the independence debate? What are your strongest memories of 2014, and how do you think indyref (as experience, as event) will enter history?  Where did questions of land and place feature in the independence debate, and how does Scottish writing speak to those questions?

Please join us for a day of discussion and conversation on these themes. This event loops back to our 2014 ‘If Scotland…’ event pondering how the indyref would appear to future historians, and also to the Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence collection.


Saturday 21 September 2019
City of Edinburgh Methodist Church
25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9BX


10.15am: Introductions, etc

10.30 – 11.30              Writers and Independence, Five Years On

Janice Galloway
Harry Josephine Giles
Jenny Lindsay
Mike Small

(Chair: Liam Bell)

11.30 – 12.30              Indyref in Personal and Public Memory

Sarah Bromage (Scottish Political Archive)
Amina Davidson (Generation 2014, BBC’s youth indyref project)
Alice Doyle (PhD on Archiving Indyref, in partnership with National Library of Scotland)
Sabina Jedrzejczyk (Generation 2014)
Rory Scothorne (PhD project on post-1960s Scottish political history)

(Chair: Scott Hames)

12.30 – 1.30: Lunch (not provided)

1.30 – 2.30                  ‘Here Lies Our Land’: Indyref, Nature and Place

Alec Finlay
Hannah Lavery
Peter MacKay
Roseanne Watt 

(Chair: Katie Ailes)

2.30 – 3.00: Tea/Coffee

3.00                             Concluding Roundtable and Interviews

Workshop: Narrating Scottish Devolution (31 August 2015)

Monday 31 August, University of Stirling

Narrating Scottish Devolution is a research project exploring the different ways in which devolution has been explained, understood and made culturally meaningful in Scotland. We are particularly interested in the idea of ‘cultural devolution’ — the notion that Scottish writers and artists paved the way for the politicians — and its influence in post-1999 governance and literary culture.


A draft programme for the second and final workshop in the series follows below. A small number of places are available for interested students and members of the public who wish to attend; please email scott.hames[at] to arrange.

For full details of the project, which is supported by the British Academy, see the link above.

Cultural Devolution as Paradigm & Practice (1999- present)

9.30 Tea/Coffee

10.00 Introductory: Recalling Workshop 1 and interim developments – Scott Hames

10.20 SESSION 1: Before and After 1999: Devolution, Change and Continuity

Kathleen Jamie, David McCrone, Gerry Hassan

12.00 Lunch

1.00 SESSION 2: Cultural Devolution as Policy Frame

Paul Cairney, Gerry Mooney, Adam Tomkins

2.40 Tea/Coffee

3.00 SESSION 3: Devolved Cultural Politics and Artistic Production

Stefanie Lehner, Neil Mulholland, Aaron Kelly

Future research directions and questions

Workshop: Scottish Emigrant Literatures in the Long Nineteenth Century (14 March 2015)

Saturday 14 March 2015, University of Stirling

This workshop is funded by the Division of Literature and Languages, University of Stirling. Registration is free but numbers are limited: participants should contact Kirstie Blair at to reserve a place.

Draft Programme

9-10am Coffee

10-12 Session 1

Kirstie Blair (University of Stirling), ‘Emigrant Poetry and the Scottish Popular Press in the Victorian Period’

Mary Ellis Gibson (University of Glasgow), ‘John Leyden: Poetry, Patronage and Linguistic Cosmopolitanism in India’

Jason R. Rudy (University of Maryland), ‘Sounding the Scottish Diaspora’

12-1 Lunch

1-2:15 Session 2

Marjory Harper (University of Aberdeen), ‘Adventure or Exile? The Scottish Emigrant in Fiction’

Honor Rieley (University of Oxford), ‘Superfluous Persons or Empire Builders?: Debating Emigration in the Scottish Romantic Novel and the Periodical Press’

2:15-2:45 Coffee

2:45 – 4 Session 3

Julia Reid (University of Leeds), ‘“O, why left I my hame?”: Robert Louis Stevenson and Scottish Emigration Narratives’

Lesley C. Robinson (Northumbria University), ‘“The arrival of the mail!”: Emigrant correspondence between Scotland and Asia’

4-5 Session 4

Concluding remarks by Tanya Agathocleous (Hunter College, CUNY) and general discussion.

Participants are invited to join the speakers for drinks and dinner in Bridge of Allan after the close of the workshop.

What will be the history of now?



After years of looking forward, we grow weary of possible tomorrows. With history about to pick a side – and as both sides try to make history – fevered minds turn to the politics of the past-in-prospect. The result on September 19 will profoundly colour the meaning and memory of everything leading up to it. On the cusp of that verdict, our current moment seems emptied of its own ‘live’ significance, awaiting the roar of impending retrospect. In the words of a James Kelman story, ‘not too long from now tonight will be that last time’ – a time we inhabit but cannot know.

History as a living and made reality is at its most liquid, but in a few weeks the facts will freeze textbook solid. Explanation will quickly usurp speculation. And so the indyref imaginary begins to pivot, worrying forward to dream back. See Martin Kettle’s wistful invitation to ‘Remember 2014, the last golden summer of the old Britain’, projecting us into a surreal and scrappy post-Yes reality, then puzzling out the complexity (and ultimate nullity) of post-British wrangling from a jaded 2024.

Alongside musings of the future-past, the empirical mania of what the Lallands Peat Worrier (playing hipster correspondent for The Drouth) fittingly deems ‘archival fever’, whereby no campaigning experience ‘is adequately authenticated without having been documented’, curated, catalogued.

What of this impulse to collect and record everything? Simply a nod to what is self-evidently historic about what’s unfolding – whatever it might soon mean –with the occasional dash of I-was-there self-regard? As with the rash of DIY polls, there is a powerful thirst to make your own evidence – owing much to a bristling mistrust of those taking the measurements and writing the first draft of this history. So capture ALL the facts (and spin) for later scrutiny: some clear-eyed scholar of the future will be equipped to see and evaluate everything – finally, and naturally, coming to vindicate our own view here and now.

There is something lively and brittle in the public memory this weather, beginning to wonder seriously how this – and we – might eventually come to look.

So go on, take a speculative selfie. Imagine that we’re looking back on the hectic present from a few decades into the future. How do we look here in 2014 — prescient? Foolish? Admirably sober? Het up about nothing?

On August 23-24 the If Scotland: Posting 2014 conference will explore just this premise, asking how the indyref will be remembered, historicised and understood a few decades from now – whatever the result.

  • What will our children find puzzling, appalling, banal about what we’re gripped by today?
  • Who and what will future historians be chortling at?
  • What will veterans of 2014 struggle to get across to a future generation of the uncomprehending – Scots who can barely fathom a country different to what they know (independent or otherwise)?




The conference will explore all facets of this question at one remove from the cross-fire of the campaigns – looking forward to a moment when current divisions have faded, and it matters a bit less which side anybody was on. Naturally the conference will explore both post-Yes and post-No futures – and future pasts reflecting on what came after 2014. The whole weekend is FREE to attend for all but salaried academics, and boasts a stellar line-up including:

– Lesley Riddoch, looking back on 2014 from 2034, reflecting on the cultural shift that came with independence. (Teaser: Charlotte Square is now Margo’s Market.)

– Ken MacLeod on the ‘New Improvement’ that followed a decisive No vote

– set-piece debates (post-Yes and post-No) featuring David Torrance, Kirstin Innes and Aileen McHarg

– a literary discussion event with Jenni Calder, Meaghan Delahunt, Kerry Hudson and Hannah McGill

– historian Catriona Macdonald on conjecture and Scottish memory

– Amy Westwell, Andrew Tickell (Lallands PW himself), Jenny Morrison and Ewan Gibbs on the politics of future Scotland(s)

– a letters workshop with Dearest Scotland

– Gerry Hassan on how Scotland became a democracy (unless it didn’t)

– literary debate with Ewan Morrison, Nicola White and Alan Wilson

– Robert Crawford on 2016’s game-changing moment in Scottish fiction

– online activists from both sides of the debate comparing notes

Plus plenary lectures from Professors Michael Keating and Cairns Craig, a So-Say Scotland gaming session, a retrospective exhibition on Scotland in 2044, and dozens of academic papers on everything from the language question(s) to the ‘high-rise kailyard’ of the future.

All this, and a specially commissioned bit of youth theatre with BBC Scotland’s ‘Generation 2014. If there is a more thought-provoking event anywhere in this debate, we’d like to hear about it.

Entry is FREE but you need to email to register for catering purposes.   (There is a limited number of places, so be quick!) You can check out the full conference spiel and programme at the If Scotland website. Not too long from now it will be the last time.

Twitter: @ifscotland

Facebook event

(With thanks to our sponsors the University of Stirling, the Saltire Society, and the Stirling Centre for Scottish Studies)

Conference: IF SCOTLAND: POSTING 2014, 23-24 August

The Stirling Centre for Scottish Studies is very proud to host IF SCOTLAND: POSTING 2014, a two-day conference and festival exploring how the indyref will be remembered and understood a few decades from now – once the uncertainties of September 2014 have set and hardened into historical facts.

The event will consider a wide range of post-Yes and post-No possibilities, and is aimed at the general public as much as academics and postgraduates.

Confirmed speakers include Lesley Riddoch, Ken MacLeod, Jenni Calder, Michael Keating, Catriona Macdonald, David Torrance, Kirstin Innes, Aileen McHarg and Cairns Craig – and many other distinguished scholars, activists and commentators.


In addition to lectures, papers and debates, the programme features:

  • special panels on the future of Scottish literature and politics

The registration fee is £80 for salaried academic delegates, and much less for postgraduates, independent scholars and members of the public (£20). Lunches on both days are included in the fee.

The Call for Papers closes in late June, and online registration is open now.  Full details, and news of further confirmed speakers and collaborations, at the conference website:

Facebook Event

Twitter: @ifscotland

Conference: Battle of Bannockburn, 25-26 June 2014



On 25-26 June, Stirling will mark the 700th Anniversary of Robert Bruce’s victory over Edward II of England at the battle of Bannockburn by holding a two day conference. Set to take place at Forth Valley College’s new Drip Road campus the event will bring together scholars working on the military, archaeological, environmental, literary and heritage history of the battle and should be of interest to scholars, students, heritage practitioners and interested members of the public alike.

A book fayre is also planned with relevant publication on display from Brepols, Brill, Birlinn, Ashgate and Shaun Tyas press, including conference organiser Michael Penman’s new book, Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots (Yale University Press). This work, along with a number of the conference papers, focuses on the events of Bruce’s reign as King after Bannockburn and challenges a number of assumptions, not least where he was born, how he died and where his body was buried.

Conference fee: £55 waged, £35 student/retired (including lunches).

Further details, registration forms and an outline programme at the conference website; to register or enquire please email