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Personal profile

Research Interests

How the land based practices and principles of these communities relate to their broader cultural understandings and worldviews; The diversity of practices and principles by which traditional and indigenous communities have governed their lands and natural resources; The consequences of difference between the governing practices and principles of traditional and indigenous communities, and the practices, principles and policies of the national and international institutions within which these marginalised groups seek to continue their distinct modes of governance


Iain MacKinnon’s interest in the cultural practices and belief systems of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have led him to study and contribute to political discussion on the politics of land and knowledge in the area. In addition to his academic publications he has contributed to a range of media on aspects of the area’s history and culture – particularly in relation to land governance and indigenous knowledge.

He was co-author of a critical micro-study of crofting land tenure in the Highlands and Islands. This study helped to shape subsequent Scottish Government legislation on the topic. His previous work has also included project management, political advocacy, media relations, editing and helping to organise a study-tour on community development in the Hebrides for Government planners from the Papua Province, Indonesia.

A key aspect of current work being prepared for publication is an analysis of the Highlands and Islands as a site of historical colonisation. He believes that understanding the area’s longstanding and underlying imperial power relations and concomitant attitudes may be vital to properly understand and negotiate political contestation in the Highlands and Islands today.

Area of Expertise:

Land Tenure and Cultural Diversity, Colonisation, Indigenous Studies

Vision Statement

I belong to a crofting family and to the Gaelic culture indigenous to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Our traditional world inspires my work, and the critical condition of our language and many cultural practices today gives that work its urgency. I have chosen to spend time learning the traditions and humanity of my elders: my approach is rooted in the transformative power of our song, music and indigenous knowledge. I would like my research to contribute to new self-understanding among peoples and to the restitution and renewal of traditional worlds.


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