Since joining LJMU English in June 2014, Dr Michael Morris has completed his first book, which participates in the modern recovery of the memory of the long-forgotten relationship between Scotland and the Caribbean. Drawing on theoretical paradigms of world literature and transnationalism, it argues that Caribbean slavery profoundly shaped Scotland’s economic, social and cultural development, and draws out the implications for current debates on Scotland’s national narratives of identity.
Eighteenth- to nineteenth-century Scottish writers are re-examined in this new light. Michael’s book explores the ways that discourses of ‘improvement’ in both Scotland and the Caribbean are mediated by the modes of pastoral and georgic which struggle to explain and contain the labour conditions of agricultural labourers, both free and enslaved. The ambivalent relationship of Scottish writers, including Robert Burns, to questions around abolition allows fresh perspectives on the era. Furthermore, Michael considers the origins of a hybrid Scottish-Creole identity through two nineteenth-century figures – Robert Wedderburn and Mary Seacole. The final chapter moves forward to consider the implications for modern (post-referendum) Scotland. You can find more details on the Routledge website.
Underpinning Michael’s research is the conviction that collective memory is a key feature which shapes behaviour and beliefs in the present. His book therefore surveys and supports the fresh stream of Scottish-Caribbean public memory work in Scotland, which includes historiographical scholarship, museum and gallery exhibitions, conferences, theatre performances, novels, public talks, television documentaries, walking tours, themed cafes and restaurants, and gigs. The striking image above is from a new exhibition entitled ‘Tartan: Its Journey Through the African Diaspora’.
Michael’s book is also intended to feed into and inform further efforts to remember. He is looking forward to introducing his ideas through his teaching at LJMU English.