Colonialism and the Highland Clearances

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This article employs a new approach to studying internal colonialism in northern Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. A common approach to examining internal colonial situations within modern state territories is to compare characteristics of the internal colonial situation with attested attributes of external colonial relations. Although this article does not reject the comparative approach, it seeks to avoid criticisms that this approach can be misleading by demonstrating that promoters and managers of projects involving land use change, territorial dispossession and industrial development in the late modern Gàidhealtachd consistently conceived of their work as projects of colonization. It further argues that the new social, cultural and political structures these projects imposed on the area's indigenous population correspond to those found in other colonial situations, and that racist and racialist attitudes towards Gaels of the time are typical of those in colonial situations during the period. The article concludes that the late modern Gàidhealtachd has been a site of internal colonization where the relationship of domination between colonizer and colonized is complex, longstanding and occurring within the imperial state. In doing so it demonstrates that the history and present of the Gaels of Scotland belongs within the ambit of an emerging indigenous research paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)22-48
Number of pages27
JournalNorthern Scotland
Issue number1
Early online date31 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • imperialism, colonialism, internal colonization, Highland clearances, indigenous research

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