Beyond kilts and bagpipes

Scottish associational culture and its wider impact on Australian society, circa 1840 to 1920

Dr Tanja Bueltmann

The Scots accounted for a sizeable number of UK-born immigrants to Australia, yet their impact on Australian society is often obscured. While kilts and bagpipes are important Scottish cultural markers, their prominence in popular perceptions of the Scots can hide more than they reveal about Scottish contributions to Australian life.

Within this wider context, this seminar explores the history of Scottish migration to Australia, using the Scots' tradition of associational culture as its lens. Organisations such as Caledonian societies or Burns clubs were much more than platforms that allowed the Scots to wallow in memories: they were, more often than not, of much wider community relevance within and outside of the Scottish immigrant community.


Dr Tanja Bueltmann is Reader in History at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She is author of Clubbing Together: Ethnicity, Civility and Formal Sociability in the Scottish Diaspora to 1930 (Liverpool, 2014), Scottish Ethnicity and the Making of New Zealand Society, 1850 to 1930 (Edinburgh, 2011) and, with Andrew Hinson and Graeme Morton, The Scottish Diaspora (Edinburgh, 2013). Tanja’s current research explores British and German expat networks in Asia.

Image: Caledonian Society Band, Bendigo, Victoria, circa 1920, Donated by W. O. Leversha to Museum Victoria

This lecture was part of the History, Culture & Collections 2016 lecture series held at Melbourne Museum.

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