Looking up in Scotland? Multinationalism, multiculturalism and political elites

Meer, Nasar (2015) Looking up in Scotland? Multinationalism, multiculturalism and political elites. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38 (9). pp. 1477-1496. ISSN 0141-9870

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    Abstract

    At a time when all the political parties of Scotland are trying to establish a persuasive vision of the nation, inquiry into where ethnic and racial minorities fit into these debates provides one understudied means of bridging literatures on multinationalism and multiculturalism. Focusing especially on the lesser known question of how elite political actors are positioning minorities within projects of nation-building, this article draws upon original empirical data in which three predominant clusters emerge. The first centres on an aspirational pluralism, in so far as political elites are less inclined – in contrast to counterparts in some other minority nations – to place ethnically determined barriers on membership of Scottish nationhood. The second concerns the competing ways in which the legacy of Scotland's place in the British Empire is appropriated by actors of different political hues, and so assumes a multiform role. The third cluster points to potential limitations in minority claims-making and recognition, especially in terms of formal multilingualism and corporate multifaithism, something that may partly be explained by the tension between multinationalism and multiculturalism. Taken together, the article illustrates how elite political actors can play a vital role in ensuring that appeals to nationhood in Scotland can be meaningfully calibrated to include minorities too.