Happy New Semester!

Hello and happy new year,

As well as the graduate seminar series, the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies hosts a lecture series throughout the year. Please see the website for more information.

The first lecture of semester two will take place on Wednesday 14th January and will be Dr Hugh Morrison speaking on notions of Scottish cultural identity in missionary families in New Zealand.

We hope to see you at some of the SCDS events this semester – the first graduate seminar will be on Tuesday 20th January at 1pm.

Fayaz Alibhai on the Shi‛a of Edinburgh

Slightly late, but here is the summary of Fayaz’s paper from 11th November – thank you to Fayaz for sharing his research with us.

Fayaz’s paper addressed a small Muslim Shi‘a group in Edinburgh, which that does not have its own mosque, and their growing confidence as expressed in their annual Muharram observances and specifically the climax of the observances, the Ashura parade, when Shi‘a Muslims worldwide remember the martyrdom of Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali at Karbala and commemorated in a parade which involves the beating of the chest as an act of lamentation.

The Edinburgh Shi‘a are made up of migrants from Iran and the sub-continent and as such are themselves split amongst Urdu and Farsi speaking adherents. Despite having been in Edinburgh for some time it was only in 2011 that they first felt sufficiently confident enough to conduct an Ashura parade which congregates at Great Junction Street in Leith. Since that time the parade has changed most notably with the introduction of signs. Signs in 2012 were carried in the procession while by 2013 they were in English and faced out from the procession with messages such as ‘Fight Terrorism through Justice’.

The confidence to parade hints at both a willingness to engage with the wider community and a perceived need to do so.


The final seminar of this semester’s series shall be on Tuesday 25th November at 1pm – Alison Garden will be speaking on Colum McCann and the literature of diaspora.

Michal Palacz on the Polish Medical Diaspora in Edinburgh

Thank you to today’s speaker, University of Edinburgh fourth year doctoral student Michal Palacz, for an informative and really interesting paper. Michal’s thesis looks at the Polish Medical Diaspora in Edinburgh, 1941-1949, and though this paper made reference to the three major waves of Polish emigration to Britain (1830s, Wartime, and Post-EU Accession Migration), it focused on the c. 1000 Polish-born (or of Polish-origin) medical professionals in Scotland during the 1940s. One of the medical professionals who made up this diaspora was Dr Krystyna Munk who had been awarded a medal for bravery while serving as a ship’s doctor during World War Two (when Polish military personnel joined with British and other Allied forces) – she later became a much-loved GP in Edinburgh. This was just one example of Michal’s ability to mix theory with personal anecdotes, making for a fascinating paper.

The plaque currently on one of the walls in the University of Edinburgh (Old) Medical School which remembers the Polish Medical School.

The plaque currently on one of the walls in the University of Edinburgh (Old) Medical School which remembers the Polish Medical School.

Our next speaker shall be Ching-An Chang from IMES. He shall be speaking on Syrian business refugees in Turkey in the aftermath of the recent civil war. Please join us on 28th October at 1pm in room G14, Doorway 4, Old Medical School, University of Edinburgh.