Surfacing diasporas

Publication Date
Professor Nasar Meer
Dr Katucha Bento
Dr Marlo De Lara
Dr Emma Hill

Join this expert panel event where we will engage in challenging questions facing Scotland around race, racism, migration, prejudice, the media and community.

What does it mean to be part of a diaspora?

How does migration shape our common experiences?

Join our international panel to explore the rich experiences of diaspora communities and the profound impact of migration on our collective journey. From Somali-Scots to Philippine workers, we challenge outdated views of “exotic” cultures abroad. Amplifying migrant voices, we reclaim diasporas as vibrant, diverse cultures beyond Western perspectives that dominate the media. We challenge academia’s oversight of the knowledge of colonised peoples, and propose new ways of reflecting on identity through sound and listening, opening up unexplored archives of migration, and dreaming of new futures!

Presented by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh.


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This transcript has been automatically generated and may feature errors.


right, wonderful. They had the goodsfence not to give me my own control of the mic, Sarah, were you can say a few words before I introduce the session?


Yeah, I just didn’t want to take your role. So come down




Warm Welcome everybody to the RSE and to the RSE’s Curious Festival, which is knowledge made useful brought to life. And that’s the mission of the RSE. So the festival runs for a couple of weeks. And there’s lots of these events. Obviously, this is the best one today. So you’ve hit the jackpot. And I’ll hand back to you to to cover it. But yes, a really warm welcome. And this is going to be absolutely fabulous. So back to you. Thanks so much, Sarah for that. Well, hello, everybody. And welcome as Sarah says to this event.


My name is Nasar, and I’m a Professor of Social and Political Science at the University of Glasgow, a role which is only two and a half weeks old to me, so I’m still getting used to it. And it’s my great pleasure to chair this discussion. And before I introduce you to our panellists, great speakers, I just might say that it’s really exciting and important time to be thinking and talking about diasporas, it really feels like the world is on the move.


And yet simultaneously looking for a home. And in many respects, our panel will will speak precisely to that in a way in which recognises how on the one hand it’s ever been thus . Some of you might know that diaspora is an ancient word broadly meaning scattering, and that it’s come to describe one way that people and communities try to hold and retain a certain kind of social and cultural connection across time and space, typically associated with migration, including displace displacement. And the idea of diaspora is often also linked to a notion of homeland as well as other times being used to describe and experience a sense of, inbetween nes, that people relate to which diasporas are seen and which diasporas go unnoticed, are, of course, key and this is something that our panel this afternoon, will discuss, not least to try and understand how some diasporas are more visibly contested when it comes to imagining shared membership, national identity, citizenship, and other ways in which what the normal way of belonging to a place might be. So we’re fortunate in this respect to have three wonderful speakers. Our first speaker, Dr. Marlo de Lara is a RACE.ED Stuart Hall foundation Fellow, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. She’s an artist whose practice works across performance visual


distraction film, her research related to feminism and the representation of marginalised population and she thinks in sound as well as official form. Our second speaker will be Dr. Emma Hill, who is a RACE.ED archival fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She has previously held fellowships at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Edinburgh. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and she works on migration, post colonial settlement and the entanglements between identity and borders. And our third speaker is Dr Katucha Bento a lecturer in race and decolonial Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of the RACE.ED network her her research


And she has a deep, profound belief and contribution to understanding how education can be transformative for social change these, this session is partly curated by the Institute for Advanced Studies and Humanities at the University of Edinburgh not least by Ben Fletcher, who was also sat in the front row. Thank you to him. And I have been told to make sure that we’re all if I do, I need to tell you about the fire exits. And I have a slide on this, which is to say that there is no fire drill expected. So if the fire alarm does go off, please follow the curious stuff and their purple T shirts if you haven’t seen them already. And they’ll guide you out of building safely to an assembly point on George Street. And so without any further ado, please let me introduce you to our panel who will take their seats and talk through their topics after which we’ll have some q&a and try to get conversation going.




Marlo, do you want to?


Hello, everyone. Good afternoon.


Thank you for the framing Nasar. And also thank you for the lovely invitation.


it’s interesting I was when I was preparing this presentation, I was thinking how long I’ve been studying this word, diaspora diaspora, which I’m going to use the American pronunciation there as it leaves my lips quite easily.


And the word itself only came into my vocabulary. In postgraduate studies. I knew two things, my parents use the phrase back home, and that my cousins often referred to me as stateside, and with what felt like an excessive glowing pride. Whenever we visited my family compound


they would seat me in front of the full blast air conditioning, and it was terribly uncomfortable and terribly cold. And my parents would explain, this is just the way it is back home.


This sentiment is quite common in Filipina X American Studies. This feeling of being a misfit, but perhaps we should start with the basics. For those of you who are less familiar the Philippines is in Southeast Asia. In the Western Pacific Ocean, it consists of approximately 7600 islands.


The population the Philippines and 2020 was 110,000,000 and 11% of those individuals live abroad.


So Philippine history itself is shadowed by repeated claiming of the islands by conquests that were rationalised as civilising missions.


The Philippines has provided labour and resources for several occupations empires such as Spain, Japan and America, and the pre colonial Filipino indigenous cultural, known as the Taos. fought off the Spanish colonisers for 50 years.


The country was named Las Islas Filipinas after the second of Spain, and then was anglicised to the Philippines by the USA.


The Philippines was the only Asian colony of Spain. And in 1946, the Philippines officially gained independence from America, with the provision that the country would still assist in military operations. Saying that, the economic dependency of the Philippines continues to fix the country into a new colonial relationship with America. Filipinos have been scattered throughout the globe providing labour from domestic workers and farmers to nurses and doctors. The country has boasted a robust economy based on OFW’s Overseas Filipino Workers, our main export. Public education was structured by the US and therefore understood as more translatable to other countries. Finally, those back home are reliant on contributions from those abroad and remittance culture which features prominently in daily life. Still deeply connected to the Philippines and sharing a mutual understanding of the homeland based on memories and shared values, the Imagine homeland is also kept intact by balikbayan culture balik, meaning back, bayan country means returned to the country. Filipinos have created pathways to send goods and money home and maintain valid family contact. Migrant communities have persisted over generations due to self segregation and exclusion, operating under the radar so to speak to survive. And this is rings very true today, in the ways that Philippines are often not considered East Asian enough to be included with vastly different migration challenges than others in the region. And our particular histories of colonisation. In the USA, the term brown Asian has become increasingly popular to compare our lived experiences to groups more similar to us, such as the Latin American and African American populations. So the trauma of being part of the Fil-Am Filipino American short and to Fil-Am quite commonly, is about living with or, part of it is living with the spectre of former colonisers and being a product of multiple violent conquests, and it’s really useful in understanding globalisation today. There is no singular Philippine identity back home, and thusly our lived experiences throughout the globe reflect that diversity. Sure, in my experience, I had shared religious and community celebrations, I celebrate the visibility of Philippine celebrities like boxer Manny Pacquiao, and Hamilton composer Lin Manuel Miranda, and R&B Hip Hop award winning artists, HER, and the comedian Joe Koy. And it is exciting that beloved chain restaurants that serve as cultural hubs like Jollibee on Princes on is it Princes Street? Yeah, Princes street can be found throughout the world, promoting a rendition of our indigenous food and cultural products, even if its ethnic origin was still obscured from write ups about its excellent crispy chicken. Ultimately, the Philippine diasporic project is one with many lessons about the pursuit of freedom and reclamation. Scholar E. San Juan Jr. Says the psychic dynamics of a shared national nostalgia creates community but ultimately serves into a national popular emancipatory project. Hopefully, I can flesh out a bit more in the q&a, but at least this gives us a place to start.


Hi, everybody, I have some slides. So if the technology goes wrong, I’m really sorry in advance. But hopefully Yep, that’s me. So my name is Emma, as Nasar said, and I’ve worked for the past few years on the topic of Somalia, Somali migration to Scotland. And in amongst that, I have worked with Somali groups for a living in Glasgow today. And then more recently, I’ve also worked on historic records and archives that maps Somali Scottish migration from the 1900s onwards. So the Somali diaspora is vast at 2 million people. And it’s kind of partly the result of a sustained displacement from the conflicts, drought and famine from the 1980s onwards. And there’s a particularly large population in the UK up to 400,000. And that’s centred in cities including London, Bristol, Cardiff and Liverpool. Which in these cities, the population is all pretty well established and also fairly long lived. The result of the migration of Somali sailors who migrated here during the colonial era of when northern Somalia was a British protectorate, and they migrated here as part of the merchant or military Navy and began to form communities. One of the questions that I’ve been interested in answering is why, when places like Liverpool or Cardiff with histories of colonial trading and colonial industry, why do they have histories of long lived Somali diasporas were somewhere like Glasgow with similar colonial trading histories and histories of colonial industry? Why does Glasgow not have something similar? Why did similar the historic settlements not arise? And then the second part of the things that I’m interested here is why and what are the consequences for contemporary Somali populations in Scotland today? So these are all quite big questions for this presentation. And I’m going to kind of try and move fairly swiftly on to the topic at hand. And what I’m going to try and talk about is how this relates to the ways in which Scottish Somali people feature in public and political imaginaries. And that how that kind of relates to the operation of colonial power today. So in Scotland, today, there are up to 4000 Somali people living here, and that makes Somali populations one of the largest black African populations in the country. The population has largely concentrated in Glasgow, although there are also some people living in Edinburgh. And it’s been built over the last two and a half decades, predominantly since the introduction of the dispersal scheme in 1999, which was a policy put in place by the New Labour Government to forcibly disperse asylum asylum seeking people around the country. And at the time, Glasgow was the biggest kind of participant in terms of cities, and Somali people made up 1/3 of asylum applicants and the kind of the two coincided. So it began with fairly traumatic beginnings. But over the last two decades, the population has persisted and settled. So sSomali people have been here a long time, they’ve been here in a way that has kind of prompted kind of deep seated engagement and community work. So how do they feature in public and political imaginaries? So the short answer is, they don’t. So this is from an interview with young Somali woman who comments were hidden down, where under the table, we’re not known, our faces are seen, but people don’t know what we’re about. And her observations are kind of supported fairly well, by comments in a 2014 article reporting on the then community secretaries and the use of comments on the Somali community who he recognises as living in England, but as not having any existence in Scotland. So representation number one, number two, Somalis are perpetually seen as refugees. So you can see Abdullah Romans comments on the right here, Somalis are still in that bracket refugees, you can live here for a long time. But Somalis are not refugees anymore, they’re citizens. And then the third imaginary, a highly racialized imaginary. So this is an article from The Daily Record, commenting on criminal activities in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, which deploys some really racialized racist tropes about the Somali subjects of the article. So what, so I’m gonna leave it there. So these kinds of observations hint towards the complexities and violence of contemporary Somali post migration experiences in Scotland. So things like of having to renegotiate, renegotiate a Somali identity and what that means in a Scottish setting, whilst also having to negotiate barriers to identity and belonging in the broader kind of political and public context of constantly having to highlight that you are here, of having to re articulate yourself from the beginning of having to narrativise yourself in terms of arrival or your migration status, rather than as a citizen or from where you are now. And having to do this in a context in which you are caught in racist imaginaries in a way that is casualized and everyday, but also structural and normative. So these kind of three things and these observations beginning begin to challenge that kind of ‘Oh there’s no racism problem here in Scotland’ myth, which has been talked about elsewhere. But what I wanted to highlight is it’s not just about kind of challenging this myth. It’s also I think, that these tropes are not isolated incidents, or kind of coming from a position of ignorance or naivety, but rather repetitions of representations and patterns that have occurred again and again. So, for instance, here, articles from the late 1980s 1990s You see the truth of Somali people being forgotten being invisible being refugees repeated. Here. In this picture of a human exhibition, you seem similar representation, race, racialized and racist representations of Somalis as savages primitive that repeated in this 2014 article from The Daily Record. And then here in the experience of two Somali men 50 years apart, you see, the kind of combination of those racist representations and racialized economies where both men, Ahmed Shaikh, and Ali Muhammad, were chased through Glaswegian and Edinburgh of public spaces, simply because they dared to be in them. Ahmed Sheikh with tragic consequences resulting in his racist murder. So here, I think what you can see is how practices and imaginaries that were born out of the operation of colonial power during the colonial colonial era – so here, and here – are then reproduced in the post colonial era of Somali Scottish relations. And they’ve also reproduce their effects. And though they are not exactly the same,  there are common threads that bind them together. So if I try and conclude. So I think what these things do is begin, as I said, to dispel myths of Scottish innocence, the whole no problem here, it wasn’t, wasn’t us, all those kinds of myths, which is also being done pretty well elsewhere. But I think more specifically, they begin to point towards the specificity of colonial power, that these aren’t just generalised things, but they work in really particular ways, with individual histories between particular countries, identities and locations, and that the representational economies that you see a kind of reproduced, and so were there effects, and I think this may begin to explain some of the reason between behind the absence of a larger or longer lived Somali population in Scotland. So for instance, there was a small but there was a Somali population in Edinburgh, kind of in the early 1990s, which fairly quickly dissipated after the murder of Ahmed Sheikh, that kind of representation of violence, translating into actual violence, translating into the dissipation of communities. But I think also these things kind of maybe begin to challenge rhetoric around newness and this perpetual refugee status. So Somali Scottish histories show that some Somali people were formerly colonial subjects, and this would sustain a degree of claims making on the colonial centre on the colonial metropole, in Scotland. And though, this kind of claims making was dismantled during so called decolonization. It nevertheless bears traces of an acknowledgement by the British state of Somali claims to the colonial centre.


And I think an awareness of a precedent of these claims kind of reframed the discussion. Somali people are not perpetually new or perpetually refugees or even either so new Scots, but are always in Anne Quaters term already integrated through a history of claims making and negotiation of colonial power in a way that discourses that focus on newness might otherwise obscure.


Hello, everyone, hi. I’m Katucha, I work with the black diaspora. And I am the daughter of the black diaspora. And today I’m going to share a story. And then I’m going to explain the story. So bear with me, if you don’t understand, but I will ask you to help me in the telling of the story, considering that so many names were raised, and I’m going to ask you to repeat them with me as we go. It’s just a few. I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s not that complicated. So since 2005, I’ve been part of Colombia communities or working with them somehow, not as a researcher but from the black Brazilian movement in Brazil. And that’s why my story will centre this communities to discuss the black Afro diaspora. So can you repeat with To me the word Quilombo. Quilombo. Yes. And I will talk about Quilombo dos Palmares Quilombo dos Palmares. Yeah, it’s in the northern region of Brazil. And this story starts in 1605. But you’re going to see that this historical date is not quite accurate. But for this formal process of storytelling, we starting in 1605. Over 60,000 people lived in this organised community called Quilombo dos Palmares, in small villages with sophisticated irrigation, security strategies, and labour division that was not divided by gender, but interests. One’s gifts. Dandara, repeat with me, Dandara, was one of the soldiers leading the security of the Quilombo. Of course, in the storytelling of Brazil, you’re going to find many Dandara’s with different roles, but for the sake of this story, Dandara is our warrior. They had tactics and support from the indigenous communities to hide and also learn the region. The people of the forest always helped the Quilombo people or so called enslaved people, trying to find the ways in the forest to run away from the Masters the enslavers. The colonisers. Zumbi, repeat with me, Zumbi, was one of the leaders in Quilombo dos Palmares alongside with Ganga Zumba. There are many names that we don’t know there are many people – we’re talking about 60,000 people in a moment where Brazil was being colonised in a very violent way by Holland, and Portugal. Especially in this area. We talked about where the beaches are amazing can imagine but imagine the amount of resources there. But as much as they sent Napoleonic troops, by Holland in Portugal to destroy Palmares, they were always, always victorious. Until 1965, when they use the horrendous Capitan, who was a famous Quilombo killer. And they set everything on fire. They killed or captured everyone they could. Zumbi managed to escape for three days, and they hunted him down. And they killed him. But they not did just that they put his head on a spike and put in the middle of this square in his capital, of Pernambuco. And that was 20 of November 1695. So to remember to say their names and other names that was erased, erased from history, the Black Awareness Day is celebrated every 20 of November. And it’s a national holiday in Brazil. But the entire month of November is our Black History Month. Quilombos were formed in a way that precede this story that I’m telling you, and there they come way before the old days ever happened and will continue to fall to be formed. Even to this day.Quilombo is not the meaning or the synonym of enslaved people who escaped. It holds the powerful meaning of a space of people who liberated themselves from colonial violence. A space, that protects, reproduces and leave the faith, the knowledge and culture of people from the African diaspora. For that reason, this story starts way before the Middle Passage and crosses generations goes through our bodies connecting the making of Quilombo’s in our practices. I carry the Quilombo in me and that’s how Quilombo’s arrive in Scotland, through people from the black diaspora, with the people of the African and black diaspora making home with the tactics of refusal, refusal of the colonial violence. We refuse to forget our ancestors we refuse to stop cooking our good smelling food. We refuse to be seen as criminals, we refuse to the hostile environment and we refuse to go back because sometimes the now we are from here and we continue refusing all the tactics of colonialism to make us or to place us as the other. The etymology of Quilombo comes with an Angolan meaning it comes from Kimbudu language, and they can get really strategies. The meaning of Quilombo is also translated in the Brazilian context in the struggles for freedom, land, and food sovereignty. To this day, Quilombos are being destroyed with Napoleonic troops, and even those kind of subtle gestures that keeps Quilombo people at the margin and raised and killed.


But the practice of Quilombos is in our everyday not to be romantic. But as the melanated nuances that makes the spirit experience to be in diaspora sometimes can be very dangerous, but full of life in the process of making home and making other Quilombos. Thank you very much.


Thank you so much for that. Three wonderful expositions of, of different and contrasting meanings of the use of diaspora. We have more than 20 minutes for a discussion. And so as the audience gather their thoughts, and indicates that they might want to ask a question or make a comment, for which there’ll be a roving mic. Can I just start by noting that across each of the accounts that you present, it is striking what role memory plays in terms of strategic remembrance, but also a more kind of banal, diffuse reimagination of events in the past in the rate of collective identity. And it’s one of the things about diaspora. That is, it’s really very interesting in that there isn’t, you know, an Archimedean point of an objective view about what our collective past is. So it’s a subjective encounter with a particular history that then is put to use, which may be an entirely accurate account. But it’s the force and the use of that memory, which is so contested in public life when it comes to to challenging what prevails as normal and or pluralising. What prevails is normal. Is that a fair reading, is that that’s shared across your, your discussion? Or is that too, too narrow an understanding of for if you’re trying to elaborate, Marlo?


I guess it’s curious to me as far as so there’s 400 years of Philippine history that is not really documented in any fashion. Our libraries were burned. There’s a oftentimes a reclamation, even my father found out that he was he was actually born a different year than he thought he was because they erased those records when he migrated to the states. And we migrated to the states in the 60s. And he was born. Well, he thought he was born in 1943. He was born in 1942.


During decolonization Spanish destroyed the bureaucracy,


and also with the conversion of the translating everything to American English standards. Oftentimes, the names get, you know, all our names. Have you hear the Latinate name last name, Marlo De Lara, you know, Manny Pacquiao Manny Pacquiao. You know, like there’s a you know, hero do you guess you know, there’s always you can hear the Spanish last name come out, but then we freeze the actual our actual names oftentimes describe the water or describe the island that you’re from. So what does memory mean? If there’s no actual document, right, and, and then if you are part of a movement that has kind of embodied the model minority myth to a certain extent, then there’s a bit of pushback is that we don’t want that history. Don’t tell us that history, like you’ll hear from your elders, because they want to feel a sense of perseverance. But then there’s also the reality of that those situations as well. And so we’re, we’re looking to heal ourselves as we try to remember together with accuracy, and also the value to act of deference to our elders respecting that. So it’s complicated, of course, a multi layered, multi generational petition.


I agree that the memory, as you said, that is crossing our imaginary imaginary of the past or the collective imaginary of the past make sense. And when we talk about the black, Brasilia movement, we are talking about this sometimes even romantic understanding of Mother Africa, as a united mother of blackness and culture, that if you if you see there are some elements, if you see if you watch the Carnival parade, which is something that might be accessible, and maybe more present in your imaginaries, we have elements of African nests, there in terms of the fabric, or in terms of the faith, or, but that is like putting together some elements that you see President in Nigeria, some others in Kenya, some others in Sierra Leone, some others in South Africa, and this is the composition of their collective imaginary that was shattered in that middle passage, and how do we amend that? How do we repair that? That memory, so sometimes in the that’s why we talk about, you know, the black diaspora and how that makes something else, or a third space in which we are still negotiating. And thinking, the Portuguese colony also used as a strategy, but not only as a colony at the time, it was in the First Republic. So Brazil was, was independent, was a but they use the colonial strategy to erase all the slave trade. Because Portugal for some time almost had the monopoly of the slave trade. And the archives in Brazil, they were intentionally burned. So how do you trace back, and that intentional chart shattering of our memories and our documents, is still institutionalised, because you have people just to trace this back to Europe, for example. We have resilience, being able to claim the European citizenship whether it is in in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy, or even in the UK, but because they have the documents and specially that is the privilege of whiteness, right? That is a Europeanness, that when people tell me, Oh, I have a Brazilian friend, or I, the Brazilian friend has a European passport. I know they white unless they married to someone unless it’s a different route. But this is quite complicated when you’re talking about the black diaspora because we’re not seeing as citizens. And that citizenship was taken from us from that route of colonialism, but also how we’re trying to amend that in making. For example, religion, like Candomblé in Brazil, is what we call the Shere a shere is a mixture of meaning. which is the divine entities, usually originally in Brazil, in well, different areas in Africa. I’m talking about Ghana, what we know as Ghana nowadays, what we know is Nigeria, what we know is Angola. They had regions in which they would celebrate one determined orixás but in the Middle Passage, they all came together. And now Candomblé as we know, in Brazil, celebrates all these orixáns, right? The ones from Angola, from all Yoruba Ebo traditions. So that’s the kind of complicated way in which we’re still navigating that reimagination of where it coming from, what home is, what it can be and what is actually become I mean, which is a totally different thing. So I’m sorry to speak so much. But


Emma before we go to the origin.


That was great. Thank you so much, I,


there’s so much that I wanted to pick up on there. But I think what I wanted to try and pick up on from Nasar’s and from both of your comments was this idea of the collective and collective memory because I think maybe what’s coming through in all of our talks is the idea that a collective is maybe not possible or maybe has been kind of indelibly fractured. And that’s especially the case, I think, in the work that I’m doing. Where if we’re talking about memory and a kind of cohesive memory, if we’re talking about a false economy, because if we’re talking about memory, of home of identity of practices of violence from the Somali perspective, then we’re not talking about obviously, we’re not talking about a homogenous identity, we’re talking about kind of radical heterogeneity, radical heterogeneity, and narratives that are memories that have maybe been started, but then immediately fractured by the borders that have happened through colonialism through displacement and through different forms of violence. So whilst in Scotland, amongst Somali diasporas, there may be kind of common memories of migrating over a particular time, these memories are also I guess, fractured and turned into kind of fractals of each other where maybe somebody came from a different place, they had a different ethnicity, they had a different history of that place in a particular time. And none of that is homogenous. And I think we can see a similar thing in Scotland, where if we’re thinking about memories, and imaginaries, of colonialism and relations between Scotland and the colonial sense and other places, then we’re also thinking about borders they what are we thinking about when we’re talking about Scotland? Are we thinking about Scotland the nation? Are we thinking about Scotland as part of the British state? Are we how are we thinking about that interaction with between Scotland and other places? And what does that mean for the idea of a collective memory? Is a collective memory possible?


Thank you so much. Great. So we have one question from the man in the third row for the young man in the grey shirt, and etc. And then the question, just


a question for everybody, but just I’m thinking about what Emma said, about how the perspective of the African diaspora in Scotland and the rhetoric against the African diaspora in Scotland hasn’t really changed. I was out of the UK, in East Africa and in Asia for 20 years, and came back just 18 months ago, and standing at a bus stop in West Pilton. There were three, either Afro Caribbean, or black African men standing. And a white lady came up and said, this is like a whole effing other world now. That was her exact words. I challenged her right on the spot. But that whole rhetoric is being reinforced at the moment, by mainstream media. Now, it’s a slightly different subject, but it’s very important. I happen to be a person of faith, I happen to be a person who tries to tries to treat everybody exactly the same no matter of the class, the race, whatever, whatever. I tried to get in touch with the grass roots of everybody who is coming into the area in which I stay in. And so much has to come back down to education of people. It’s an absolute disgrace. And I feel totally embarrassed as as a as a Scotsman born and brought up in Edinburgh to hear all these racist remarks. So how do you begin to change the perspective of the African and Afro Caribbean and Brazilian African diaspora in in this time, where whole society is being fractured?


Thank you very much. Thank you for that


thank you so much to the panel. As a Brazilian myself, I will not be asking Quilombo to embarrass myself because I am clearly not I’m very whites. So I enjoy your my privilege for being from South Brazil. But what I want to say first of all to make a comment to our Katucha said is that I have, I have enjoyed the privilege of my whiteness in terms of having European passport. Yes. However, there is one key person in our family, who is who has been erased, which is a black, great grandmother. We don’t know anything about her. We know she was there, because she’s my grandmother’s mom. But she has been completely erased from family history, from documentation. And from from our environment. We don’t know anything about her. So this is something that I think a lot a lot. So I really appreciate what you said today. Because the more I think about our even our in a small scale, different from what you said, our family histories as well, black people continue to be erased, even when you when we when one would consider themselves educated. So I’m not sure about the education, what to do with education given that I work in the School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. However, my question is, to Marlo. You mentioned something very big that I took notes in very bold letters, a national popular emancipatory project. There is a lot going on there. Can you please it you mentioned that you could perhaps elaborate for us? I would really appreciate because what national are you talking about? Because I understand you were talking about salem citizens. So if you can please give us more details. Thank you so much. Thank


you. I’m gonna take another question as well, please from middle row.


I just wanted to address two things. Well, one thing in two what two people mentioned, sorry. And that’s the topic of education. And in my opinion, what comes down to that ultimately, so one of your questions was like when we say education, we’re referring to you, but I think typically in mainstream society, we reference education in a systemic way, as if that’s the only principle of education exists. And really, education, in my opinion, is intelligence. And I think intelligence is of your own agency, what inspires you to learn about, you know, when you go down a road, and you look at the castle or something, what inspires you to know more about that castle? So as of so and I think, you know, when we, when mentioned white supremacy as a systemic element in society, it needs to take its own agents, you know, I mean, on education, and not assuming it’s gonna come from somewhere else. Do you get what I mean, you need to take or sorry, white supremacy or society needs to take its own control on what it needs to what it wants to learn, you know, I mean, it’s not for I know, we know this, but it’s not for outside sources, or any external sources to come to you within, you know, I mean, it needs to be like, okay, cool. How can we create a balanced dynamic, like the same way? I think, now in society, we say, we have a, we have an understanding of like, the patriarchy, so to speak. And in my opinion, I think that often takes a comfortable seat in conversation, let’s say, if we sit in here in the room, and we mentioned, there’s something that I’ve noticed with racism, or racial politics, it cuts a room, or it creates tension in the room, always, if we mentioned patriarchy or something in a room. It’s like, it’s a given, it’s like, we can say, yeah, there’s patriarchy. Whenever you mentioned, typically, white supremacy in a room, you know, any any sort of room is like, area, whatever. But that same kind of thing, where in society were pressuring the patriarchy to go, well learn, you know, is the male get, we’ve got these terms and stuff like the male gaze, or you love it, we need to do that same thing, do you not I mean, and consider it not to take to, to delve inward with this, this idea of guilt, you know, white guilt, etc. So it’s not about that. Do you know, I mean, it’s about taking control over that, in my opinion. So I don’t know if that’s quite clear.


Thank you. Yeah. So kind of common themes across the three points, specific question about clarification, but I think that we can take them in the fashion in which we receive them.


So I will start by trying to address what your question about, kind of how to challenge racism in Scotland when society has been fractured. And I think what I tried to do in my presentation that was really challenging this idea of newness I think, some of the power as, as we just heard some of the power of racism is that it’s seen as a kind of controversial thing, as soon as somebody is accused of being racist, or like racism is institutional or otherwise is brought up in a room. This is kind of collective. And and I think one of the ways in which we begin to challenge that, introduce it into kind of common parlance and for it to become a kind of normative topic of conversation is emphasising that these things are not new, by doing the archival work by doing the historical work that shows that these things are not like a one off aberration. They’re not the actions of one individual on the street in Edinburgh. It’s something that has happened time and time and time, again, through colonial systems, but also through other systems that have supported these things that enable them to happen, to the point that they haven’t been challenged to the point that they have become normative. And kind of, I guess, educating people and individuals that this is part of our history, it’s not a one off thing. It’s something that is endemic and embedded in the waste.


Can we get an ask from them? And then because I’ve got another few questions out there, we’ve got four minutes. So I’m trying to make the most of our most of our panel.


Thank you for all the comments and questions I just wanted to address across the comments, just thing. One, is that our families are also part of a recognised institution, right in the state. So erasing someone’s name, in our very small circles may feel something very individual, but it’s actually something institutional and structural in the society. And HJ Spillers has a text called Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe. And that addresses exactly how intentional it was to have black families, dismantled. You have children, they’re going to be sold to different people, we now are going to unite to tried to reclaim some of her kids, she didn’t manage to, to get them back all of them back, and she saw them being sold. This is in the United States. So I’m just trying to say that we need to say her name, say your great grandmother’s name. Maria Bernadete Pacífico, was killed just a few days ago, she’s a mother spiritual mother Salvador by the same way her son was killed. I’m sorry for being talking about such triggering topics. But it was 12 Thoughts on her face. It was an execution is specifically because she’s a Quilombo person. And she was fighting for the land of her Quilombo. So this is me might mean fighting you again. So we don’t forget that this is still happening. Her name was Bernadete Pacífico. Thank you. So yeah.



I was actually just thinking a bit about specificity. And how that really, that level of clarity really helps with discussion. You know, if we’re talking about, you know, the Somali diaspora, then we can talk about blackness. And we can also very much land it and say this is this body of work dresses, specifically, the constellation of different factors that Somali folks are countering. And I think that’s really important, as long as we can read across them as very, very helpful. A reading absence of things as well as reading the presence of things is always really important as well. So I it’s kind of interesting, because the question that you asked me actually kind of brings it all together to a certain extent. So E. San Juan Jr. is a scholar in the Philippines, but then he came to the States and then he went back to the Philippines. And now he only writes in, in Tagalog only writes in Filipino, and he was celebrating both very celebrated scholar but one of the reasons why he was bringing this up is that the the concept of the national popular emancipatory project is there is a difference as as the last, you mentioned about what education is right? This difference between this kind of education it’s pretty bold. to fancy lettering, right? And then education like, my mama told me that, right? Both have facets and are quite and both are can we can use the words, data, right? Or we can call it feedback, or we can call it conversation. Right? But that is that bottle of popular education versus formalised education. So when he’s, this is kind of a complicated thing. So when E. San Juan Jr. is saying he also criticises concept of the nation and the nation state. So, I think that might be a little bit of a translation issue that we actually have to go to E. San Juan Jr. to because I read I read the American translation of this, I don’t know the original lecture. So I think that’s part of it there is that it’s really about the Republic or the you know, the Islas like Islas the islands themselves, but they would qualify.


Thank you very much. Do you know what I’m gonna be really naughty and push the time to the max with two questions . If a trapdoor opens, and I fall through it. That’s why sorry.


Thank you very much indeed, for the speakers. But it’s with great sadness, listening to some of your stories. Because in actual fact, there is healing that’s required great healing, and education, and also to have all your memories lost, etc. I can only say, maybe you do not know about the Scottish diaspora tapestry, which was made by 1105 people throughout the world. These tell the stories of Scots who emigrated to many, many countries. And I was very, very privileged for two years to go around that, to go around the world, curating exhibitions for a month in each place. Perhaps it’s time that perhaps your stories could be told.


Thank you very much, gentlemen, and in the third row.


Thank you very much. Thanks. Thank you. For all that’s happened so far. One of the things that strikes me from what’s been said is that it hadn’t really occurred to me before. But it seems to me that you can be a diaspora in your own country because of colonialism. That’s just a comment. But but alongside that, I’m from the shed and the Shetland Islands, and you probably don’t know, but Shetland was colonised by the Scots and even when I was growing up, the Scots were hated. And the Scots refused to let us use our own names. They used to refuse to let us use our language, they refuse to let us use our own religion. And in the 19th century, when it was still, that was still very much the case. It was a kind of reimagining of Shetland and Shetland, almost in exactly the same way. Walter Scott, the the reimagination of Scotland. But in that reimagining, how can you actually be true? How can you be true to the past? And who you really are? Is there any way of doing that when so much has been destroyed?


So if you can answer some fundamental questions within the field of Diaspora Studies in a final minute or two,


we are already telling the stories, we are already weaving them together. And we are here. Yes, our diasporas are within our countries, or they ask us are also outside them. And even when we are nationals here, they are diasporic. So yes, this is happening in our voices are pretty much there in different tapestries, and colours and textures.


And you may be quite surprised, and how, how accessible they are. If, if what is for example, just walking on Princes Street and understand what is I mean, may just be a what is this new fried chicken, please? It’s delicious. Right? But you might be like, Why is it like this? Other people seem to know this? And there’s lines, you know, there were lines for weeks? Great, you know, but the way but let’s let’s unpack that. I mean, what are the different ways this shows up when you go to the hospital? You know, when you look at like when you there’s different people you engage with every day, and they’re not, you know, that perhaps there’s there’s that level, and there’s also just in culture, really cool. You know, this person, and they’re talking about it, it’s just whether or not legibility is very different than the absence of right. Does it read? I think that’s where they are. Maybe we


can read. Any final comments. Good legibility. One last question from the online. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Just wanted to make sure we got another question in. So we had Sarah from online, who asked sort of one of the speakers understandings of the term diaspora verses migrant communities and what changes when we use those different terms?


Well, I mean, I think disciplinary wise, you know, isn’t it when the term Diaspora Studies, it was an actual, you know, it was a term, right? We have these turns in academia, where there certain certain language becomes more popular. And I think that is for diaspora most people originally imagined it comes from the Jewish Diaspora. Right, that was the initial one that most people felt most comfortable recognising. And so again, I think it’s just as like Vanessa started, the talk was really about how the term has been in fashion. But of course, we’ve always migration is the reality of the world resources are the reality of the world. There’s so many reasons why people migrate, and there’s so many different terms and even that study as well. So I guess it’s more so How committed are you to using your term, what reads again, going back to the Word of reading, but reads for your you know, how you want to talk about it. And what body of work seems quite referential to what you’re talking about, I likethe term.


that, simply put, one doesn’t have to be a migrant to be a member of diaspora community.


So I guess, I think about in terms of migrating and migration, implying a sense of diapsora, which I think probably just plays


in. And also, I think there were institutional implications, especially when you address it to policy. So when you’re talking about migration policy, when you’re talking about displacement of people in the world, migration is very different to diaspora, especially on the roots or the colonial roots that we are addressing in how the diaspora came about. I would never say, black Africans migrated into Brazil. Right? So that is just a big difference that I think you need to be more like aware when you are using the words and just Yeah, yeah,


wonderful  Thank you. Well, on that point, please join me in thanking the organisers, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, the Stuart Hall Foundation, The RACE.ED Network at the University of Edinburgh alongside our three wonderful speakers this afternoon.


And a reminder, just to keep your eye on the Curious programme and to check out the next events on your way out. Thank you so much, everyone. Good afternoon.

A rainbow over a city at sunset
Publication Date
Professor Nasar Meer
Dr Katucha Bento
Dr Marlo De Lara
Dr Emma Hill
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