By Nicola Martin, University of Stirling and @NicolaMartin14
Whilst the current view from my window is not as symbolic as Eleanore’s (I’m currently working from home rather than the Parliament), I too found my thinking for this opening post directed by one of Scotland’s many evocative landscapes. I started my day as I often do: an early morning walk around Culloden Battlefield with my dog where, as long as the roads are quiet, you can almost imagine having been transported to the eighteenth century. This in fact is exactly what I plan to do as part of this internship – in my research if not in person.
I’m interning with Scotland’s Futures Forum over the next few months alongside Eleanore, working on the Scotland 2030 Programme. This programme looks ahead to 2030 and questions how we can make Scotland a better place for all its citizens.
We’ll be working together on some aspects of the work: gaining some insights into young people’s perspectives of what they hope Scotland will be like in the future and what aspects of society and culture they think are most important for any nation. The programme asks the question ‘What is a civilised nation?’ and we will be interrogating this terminology throughout the internship, confronting the challenges inherent in the language.
As a historian, I am interested in providing a past perspective for the programme to contextualise the discussion that we generate and to provide the historical perspective required when confronting challenging language. In addition, whilst Eleanore considers Scotland’s relationship with the environment, I’ll be considering the relationship with technology in the past, present and future.
Of course, as I’m only here for a few months the research I carry out will not be comprehensive: I can offer no more than a snapshot. It will not be possible to examine all past perspectives of the terminology nor will it be possible to reconcile the problems we are faced with today when using such language. In the short time I have available I cannot possibly come to any definitive conclusions about Scotland’s relationship with technology over time and how, if it all, that relationship should be constructed in the future.
However, confronting past perspectives and contextualizing the project can inform our understanding as we move forward. Whilst I cannot overcome the problems that we are faced with in the language of ‘civilisation’ which is rooted in the enlightenment, discussing these problems and challenges can provoke discussion and debate regarding what role terms such as ‘civilisation’ and ‘a civilised nation’ can or ought to play in our discussions of Scotland in the future.
My posts over the course of my time with the Forum will highlight some of the work that I am doing as part of this exciting project and some of the challenges that I occur when carrying out research into the past, present and future. I’ll interrogate the language and challenge narratives of the Scottish Enlightenment, consider the role that technology played in Scotland in the past and discover the various ways that technology is viewed today in relation to society.
Both Eleanore and I will also blog about our shared work gathering the views of a wide range of young people about Scotland 2030 and we look forward to sharing our results with you in a variety of formats.
Scotland’s Futures Forum exists to encourage debate. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the Forum’s views.