‘Scotland, Ireland and the Cultural Artefacts of Colonialism’

deadline for submissions: 
December 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Sarah Sharp/University of Aberdeen
contact email: 

‘Scotland, Ireland and the Cultural Artefacts of Colonialism’: Workshop in association with the University of Aberdeen’s Research Institute for Irish and Scottish Studies. 


Dates: 26th-27th March 2021


CFP: The toppling of the bronze statue of Edward Colston into Bristol Harbor in June 2020 has quickly become one of the defining images of the Black Lives Matter movement in Britain. These scenes, and others like them across Britain and the US, have brought conversations about the role of colonial cultural artefacts in modern life into the forefront of public debate. Confronting police brutality against Black Americans, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has been a catalyst for the consideration of wider systematic racism around the globe and the role which cultural artefacts play in reinforcing these systems. 


There are many parallels between the conversations taking place in Ireland and Scotland. In both countries, acknowledging Imperial participation has required the renegotiation of popular myths around ‘white slavery’ and the use of famine and clearance to justify settler expansionism. Ireland’s President Michael Higgins gave a landmark speech to the Western Australian parliament in 2017 where he emphasized the need to acknowledge colonial injustices perpetrated by Irish settlers. In Scotland calls for the removal of the statue of Henry Dundas in Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square this year have amplified existing discourse about the importance of acknowledging Scotland’s active role in Britain’s Imperial projects. In this context, the examination of Scotland and Ireland’s part in shaping and consuming cultures of colonialism at home and abroad has an increasing urgency. 


This workshop will invite participants to examine the ways in which the cultural artefacts of colonialism have featured in Scottish and Irish life in the past, how they persist today, and how they might be understood in the future. Conceiving of the ‘cultural artefact’ in its broadest possible sense, to include not just physical artefacts but also music, food cultures, and texts, we welcome proposals for 15-minute papers from scholars from across the breadth of cultural studies including art history, film studies, history of architecture, museums and collections, music, literary studies, Celtic languages and area studies. 


Location: We are currently planning for an in-person event at the University of Aberdeen with an online event as a contingency plan. However, we realise that recent events mean that travel is difficult for many at the moment. If you would be interested in participating remotely please let us know in your abstract document.



Abstracts and bios of approximately 400 words are due by Thursday December 10th 2020. Please send abstracts to the workshop convenor, sarah.sharp@abdn.ac.uk