City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

International Conference: Scotland and Poland, A Historical Relationship - 1500 - 2009

By Editor - Posted on 14 September 2009

Event details
Telephone (info): 
0131 623 3346

Renowned journalist and historian Neal Ascherson opens this special two-day conference examing ties between scotland and Poland with a lecture entitled "Brothers and Sisters for a' that': Rediscovering the
Polish-Scottish Relationship" at the George Square
Lecture Theatre.

This is a free event - but advance booking is essential.

About the two-day conference

Polish Cultural Institute in London, in cooperation with the Scottish
Centre for Diaspora Studies (University of Edinburgh), with the support
of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, has
organized an engaging two-day international conference addressing
'Scotland and Poland: a Historical Relationship, 1500 - 2009'.

Scotland and Poland, a Historical Relationship, 1500 - 2009
International Conference.1-2 October is at 6.30pm, Thursday 1st
of October

Scots or Poles are aware of their countries' close historical ties. The
international conference 'Scotland and Poland, a Historical
Relationship, 1500-2009' aims to make the Scottish-Polish links more
visible. The conference brings together the leading experts on Polish
and Scottish history. Papers presented investigate early modern
Scottish migrations to Poland, the reception of the Scottish
Enlightenment in Poland, Polish Armed Forces in Scotland during WWII,
current day Polish migrations to Scotland within the framework of
European Union and much more. The international conference 'Scotland
and Poland, a Historical Relationship, 1500-2009' is a major
opportunity to discover the two nations' shared past and present.

1 October Neal Ascherson will hold a free public lecture entitled
Brothers and Sisters for a' that': Rediscovering the Polish-Scottish
Relationship at the University of Edinburgh. The distinguished Scottish
journalist and commentator has lectured and written extensively about
Poland and Eastern European affairs. Professor Tom Devine, Sir William
Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Paleography, Director of the
Scottish Centre of Diaspora Studies, and Head of School of the
University of Edinburgh's School of History, Classics and Archaeology
will chair the lecture on Thursday 1 October at the George Square
Lecture Hall, University of Edinburgh, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LK.

Ascherson said, 'This conference marks the rediscovery of a locked room
crammed with lost Scottish history. In some ways, it's even more
important than Walter Scott's 1818 rediscovery of Scotland's hidden
regalia in Edinburgh Castle. The Scottish colonies in Poland, and the
network of highly-organised settlements across the Vistula basin,
represented Scotland's first major venture into the outside world.
Their success over several centuries laid down the future pattern and
structures of Scottish overseas expansion, a pattern repeated before
the 1707 Union and carried on into the British overseas empire which
was to survive into the mid-20th century. (The Darien Scheme was a
disaster precisely because it ignored that Polish precedent).

this Polish-Scottish relationship also has European significance. In
the history of early-modern Europe, there is no comparable example of a
large-scale colonial enterprise which succeeded without military
conquest or political 'regime change'.

then, a special Scottish-Polish intimacy has survived in spite of the
barriers imposed by language, religion, distance and above all by
politics - from the Partitions to the Iron Curtain. When Poland first
lost its independence, it was in 19th-century Scotland and in France
that the Polish cause found its most passionate support. The sojourn of
Polish armed forces in Scotland during the Second World War made an
immense and liberating impact on popular memory, which still needs to
be explored. And in this generation the inflow of vigorous young Poles
has not only stimulated the economy but revived that sense of intimacy
between the two nations. With this conference, Scotland and Poland at
last regain their hidden common heritage.'

TM Devine OBE DLitt FRSE Hon MRIA FBA Head of School, School of
History, Classics and Archaeology said 'The Scottish Centre for
Diaspora Studies welcomes the prospect of taking part in this exciting
and unique event. This is the first time ever that the strong
historical relationship between Poland and Scotland since medieval
times to the present has been considered in an academic conference. Few
Scots are aware of the fact that in the 17th century at least 40 000 of
their fellow countrymen migrated to and settled in Poland. It was one
of the greatest Scottish emigrations of the last several centuries.
Intriguingly young Poles are settling in large numbers in Scotland in
recent times and so the wheel has come full circle. Therefore there
could not be a better time to explore the connections between these two
historic nations. '
following day, a round of the leading scholars in Scottish and Polish
history will come together to explore the two nations' shared past and
present. The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Study coordinates the three
conference sessions. Among the topics addressed by the speakers are: 
o Scottish Highlanders in Poland, c.1500-1800 o Polish-Scottish diplomatic and political relations, 16th and 17th Century o The Reception of the Scottish Enlightenment in Polando Polish Armed Forces in Scotland during WW II and their life after the Waro Polish immigrants in the Scottish media, 2004 to present

Tryc-Bromley, Deputy Director of the Polish Cultural Institute said 'My
first encounter with British culture was through participation in the
Edinburgh Festival. I came as a teenager to internship with a restless,
though always inspiring, Richard Demarco. Scotland has opened its heart
to me and many other Poles. Edinburgh has played an important role in
building cultural connections between the best Polish artists, theatre
practitioners and creative individuals; in particular, throughout the
eighties when Poland was behind the Iron curtain.  During
that time of disconnection from the world it was exhilarating to be
challenged by, and taste victory on, the global stage of the Edinburgh
are many historical threads and human interest stories that we want to
bring to the attention of both the new generations of Scots and Poles
through the Scotland-Poland conference; the University of Edinburgh
hosted the Polish Medical School after the II WW, Chopin toured for the
final time around Scotland, and an unusual Polish soldier, Wojtek the
bear from Anders Army, spent the remainder of his life in the Edinburgh
Zoo. It is now a time to look deeper into our past and present
relations so we can build new, exciting projects for the future.' 

Polish Cultural Institute is part of diplomatic mission of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Based in London, the
Institute is dedicated to nurturing and promoting cultural ties between
the United Kingdom and Poland, both through British exposure to Poland
's cultural achievements, and through exposure of Polish artists and
scholars to British trends, institutions, and professional
counterparts. The Polish Cultural Institute has been supporting
exhibitions, music performances, theatre productions at both Edinburgh
and Edinburgh Fringe.

Neal Ascherson

Ascherson was born in Edinburgh and studied history at Cambridge. He
has been a journalist all his life, specializing in Central and Eastern
Europe but also working in southern and east Africa and, more recently,
in the Caucasus. His interests have been Scottish history and politics,
and archaeology. He first visited Poland in 1957, and has returned
almost every year since then. From 1963-9, he was The Observer
correspondent for Central and Eastern Europe, based in Berlin. He was a
witness to events in Poland leading up to March 1968, reported the
'Prague Spring', and also the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia
that August. In 1975, he returned to Scotland for 5 years, working as
Scottish politics correspondent for The Scotsman. He continued to visit
east-central Europe, reporting the Papal visit to Poland in 1979 and -
from Gdansk - the birth of Solidarity in 1980. In 1989, he covered the
decisive Sejm [Polish Parliament] elections in Poland. Between 1985 and
1998, he worked in London as a columnist for The Observer and then The
Independent on Sunday. He is the author of two books about Polish
affairs, The Polish August (1981) and The Struggles for Poland (1987);
the latter accompanied the TV documentary series with the same name,
for which he wrote a number of scripts. In the 1970s, he wrote some of
the commentaries for the World At War TV documentary series. His book
Black Sea appeared in 1995; Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland was
published in 2003. Neal Ascherson has won a number of journalism and
literary awards, and was granted the Polish Order of Merit in 1992. He
now works part-time in the Institute of Archaeology, at University
College London, where he edits the journal Public Archaeology. He is
married, with four children.

Scotland and Poland, a Historical Relationship, 1500 - 2009
International Conference.1-2 October. MAIN LECTURE:6.30pm, Thursday 1st
of OctoberBrothers and Sisters for a' that': Rediscovering the
Polish-Scottish Relationship lecture by Neal Ascherson.  George Square
Lecture Theatre, University of Edinburgh.Free event - advance booking
is essential.