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Fàilte gu Dùn Èideann

Burns Statue


The Centre for Scottish Studies is delighted to announce the appointment of Scottish novelist Val McDermid as a Visiting Professor. A full press release can be found here.


Welcome to Scottish Studies at the University of Otago. The Scottish Studies programme is headquartered in the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at 99 Albany Street, Dunedin.

We are delighted to offer a suite of undergraduate papers in Scottish Studies, as well as graduate supervision at the Masters and Doctoral level.

Scottish Studies at Otago is an interdisciplinary study of the history, literature, and culture of Scotland since the late seventeenth century. Reflecting Scotland's history as one of the most mobile societies in Europe, our research and teaching possess a global scope, encompassing both the internal development of Scotland and the international impact of the Scottish diaspora.

Here in Otago, the impact of Scottish mobility is tangibly present. Founded by Scottish settlers in the 1840s, the city of Dunedin takes its name from Dùn Èideann, the Gaelic term for Edinburgh. With thoroughfares like Princes Street and Heriot Row, and suburbs like Abbotsford (named after Walter Scott's estate in the Borders), Waverley (named after Scott's first novel), and Mosgiel (named after Robert Burns's farm), the 'Edinburgh of the South' is saturated in Scottish heritage. Like many of the city's institutions, the University of Otago was itself founded by Scots, and its first Chancellor was the Revd Thomas Burns, the poet's nephew.

Through Scottish Studies at Otago, you will increase your knowledge of a nation whose historical experience is critical to a proper understanding of the modern world. Indeed, the Scottish experience is central to a wide range of current areas of enquiry in the Humanities, including: international migration; the 'pooling' of sovereignty in supranational political bodies; the invention of tradition; urbanisation and the culture of cities; the phenomenon of stateless nationhood; and the performance of national identity. These and other topics will be explored by Scottish Studies staff and researchers in a variety of research projects to be carried out over the coming years.

Scottish Studies at Otago aims to explore the impact of Scottish settlement in Australasia and beyond. It also aims to explore the analogies and parallels thrown up by the Scottish experience. Like New Zealand, Scotland is a small, geographically peripheral country often overshadowed by a larger neighbour. Both Scotland and New Zealand have been affected by the ebbing of Empire, and in recent years have sought to redefine themselves in relation to a 'Britishness' that in earlier decades might have gone uncontested. Each has been coming to terms with cultural diversity, and wrestling with the challenge of giving due recognition to minority language and culture. They have much to learn from each other.

Please contact us if you would like to take any of the undergraduate papers, or pursue postgraduate work in Scottish Studies.

Goals and Objectives

Scottish Studies at Otago aims to:

  • Foster research into the history, literature, culture, and languages of Scotland, with particular reference to the international impact of Scottish migration over the past three centuries.
  • Develop a suite of undergraduate papers in Scottish Studies.
  • Organise conferences, symposia, and seminars in the field of Scottish Studies.
  • Develop a critical mass of doctoral students.
  • Provide a focus and platform for external grant application.
  • Direct and undertake archival research on Scottish settler materials held by important local repositories (the Hocken Collections, the Otago Settlers Museum, Archives New Zealand Dunedin Regional Office).
  • Establish collaborative ventures and partnerships with centres of excellence in other institutions across the globe.
  • Connect with the local community via public lectures, media appearances, and other outreach activities, in order to disseminate academic research to a wider audience and to foster and develop the considerable local interest in Scottish Studies.

All images of Scotland on this website are provided courtesy of Andy Hall: http://www.asenseofbelonging.com and the Burns Statue image is supplied courtesy of David Wall: http://www.davidwallphoto.com.

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