research: scotlandmigration

This is one of a selection of resources (films, texts, artworks, etc) which provides useful information to aid the contextualisation of the situations in which Cultural Documents works. This group of research resources is provided to the contributors undertaking new projects as part of the introductory research phase of each project.

scotlandmigration is a pilot project: it is a web-based archive of photographs which aim to reify the other places which are in the mids, memories and consciences of people living in Scotland. These include places from which people originate, or have lived in for a while, and which have been the location of the accumulation of elements of their identities.

In 2011, we started Scotland Migration through meetings, workshops and dialogues of gathering feedback and content which was edited by Deirdre MacKenna to form her pilot project ‘Scotland Migration‘.

At this stage, the site includes an initial number of contributions made by people who responded to our call. Clearly, these contributions do not provide an equal or balanced representation of the people and places which make up Scotland’s intercultural connections.


This is the first project of its kind to tell stories of migration through photographic images. We hope that it will be a useful tool for people who wish to represent their stories of where they used to live and the journey that brought them to Scotland.

The concept of emigration is well-known in Scotland through the history of the Highland Clearances and the achievements of pioneering Scots entrepreneurs abroad, but less is known of the experiences and identities of people who choose Scotland as a new home. In today’s society, notions of identity are no longer restricted to a sense of belonging to a specific place of residence and are increasingly enabled by the connectedness of on-line networks and travel abroad. Whether we consider the stories of families migrated from China, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland or elsewhere, the aim of this project is to reflect upon what the experience of migration involves.

The images in this archive can be of now and of the past – photography was invented around 1840 so we hope that this archive will include some of the first photographs ever recorded of people arriving in Scotland.

The images concentrate upon the experience of preparing for departure, journey and arrival, and are all ‘tagged’ with key words: Preparation, Departure, Journey, Arrival, Acclimatisation, Integration, Return. As the archive grows, the images can be searched in a number of ways: for example by the key words, by historical period and by location in order to create a grouping of images that starts to make visible the experience of migration.

Whether the images are of first, second, third or fourth generation immigrant, every image helps enrich the archive.

scotlandmigration was initiated in 2012 by Deirdre MacKenna and is owned by her cultural enterprise business Cultural Documents, registered in Scotland no 71917 49859. If you have any queries, please contact Deirdre on


The funding has now been secured to further develop Scotland Migration in 2019 and 2020 with the collaboration of a wide rage of individuals and groups.

Connected Images

image: Daily Record newspaper 18.04.2015

image: Daily Record newspaper 18.04.2015