Changed lives, flexible identities and adaptable responses: a comparative history of post-1950 Scottish migrants in New Zealand and Hong Kong
Watson, Iain Gordon
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This thesis explores two forms of modern Scottish migration, settler and sojourner migrations. It addresses the differing motives behind the choice of migration and the impact of different host environments on the creation and use of Scottish identity, the deployment of ethno-cultural capital, the use of social networks, Scottish associationalism, nationalism, and the return behaviours of Scottish migrants since 1950. The vehicle for this exploration is a comparison of Scottish migration to New Zealand and Hong Kong, where the former is used as an example of settler migration and the latter of sojourner migration. The study uses in-depth, semi-structured life-story interviews of settler migrants and the descendants of earlier settlers in New Zealand and the sojourners and returned sojourners of Hong Kong. These oral history interviews are supported by surveys of migrants in the host locations and returned sojourners in the UK and further validated against statistical sources. The thesis argues that migrant identities are individually manufactured, plural and fluid but also subject to change dependent on the demands of environment and the individual's needs as much as any inherent national identity. The comparative nature of the study highlights that migrant responses differ between destinations. Additionally, the comparison addresses the little understood or researched modern Scottish sojourner. The comparison against the better understood settler migrant cohort draws out the differences in motivations, identity constructions and deployment of Scottishness between the migrant groups. Both groups use their Scottish identities with varying intensity. In New Zealand, where Scottish identities are part of the cultural mainstream, and maintained by a multi-generational cohort, promotion is less intense than in Hong Kong. There, the small number of Scottish sojourners actively target and promote a hybrid form of human, cultural and social capital, as both a personal resource and a basis for usable networks. The thesis labels this form of capital as ethno-cultural capital, defined as the advantage or disadvantage, which accrues to an individual from belonging to, or being associated with, a particular ethnic group. The thesis builds on earlier studies and emphasises that the fluidity of identity construction has continued into the twenty-first century. Migration requires of individuals that they constantly reappraise and recalibrate their identities to align themselves to the environments of their destination as well as the homeland upon return, a constant and circular renegotiation of change. The thesis identifies ethnocultural capital as a hybrid form of capital, suggesting that Scottish migrants tend to be among its more adept promoters. It also proposes explanations as to why Scottish migrants are prepared to invest time and resources in ethno-cultural capital promotion. Reflecting the central themes of change, flexibility and adaptability, the thesis also argues that freed from the rigidity of colonial structures, Scottish associationalism in Hong Kong has broadened its reach and become more responsive to migrant needs. In contrast, New Zealand’s traditional Scottish associations have declined and their roles as sites of memory have been replaced by newer associational forms such as family history and genealogy research.