04 January 2013
The History Scotland and Royal Historical Society prize, which rewards high-quality work by undergraduates in dissertations on any aspect of Scottish history, has been awarded to Katie Forbes. Read Katie's introduction to her work and the first part of her prize-winning essay here ...
The History Scotland / Royal Historical Society prize is intended to reward high-quality work done by undergraduates in dissertations on any aspect of Scottish history.
This year the prize was awarded to Katie Forbes, who wrote on 'Identity, migration and settlement; the Isle of Lewis and Quebec, c.1800-1914'.
Katie introduces the subject here, while the first part of her dissertation can be read below.
In 1842, Alasdair Buachaill left the village of Tolsta on the Isle of Lewis and migrated to Tolsta in Quebec, Canada. With his wife Mary, and three children Annie, Mary and Donald, he settled in a community composed entirely of people who had emigrated from Lewis in the last five years.
In the diasporic moment, when the leodhasach community found itself threatened with, and experiencing, the process of migration, identities came into sharper focus. The factors that prompted and enforced migration, such as debt, hunger and over population shaped the behaviour and beliefs of the Leodhasaich as much as language, religion and community.
These 19th-century migrants established a new life in the Eastern Townships of Quebec which mirrored life on Lewis. The institutions they established – church, school and local government – safeguarded and preserved the structures that had existed on the Isle of Lewis. The customs and practices which defined leodhasach identity became the culture of the Townships.
The physical land of Lewis may not have been the backdrop any more but the descendent of one leodhasach emigrant, Maryann Morrison, said that all that was needed to feel leodhasach was oatmeal and the catechism. Why and how they maintained this distinctive identity is the subject of Katie's research.
Katie Forbes studied History at the University of Cambridge. Read more about her work in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of History Scotland.
The first part of her prize-winning essay can be read in the PDF document below…