Open Reading Group

Place and Exile: Material Culture and Indigenous

Appropriation Within a Scottish Island Context

27 March, Atlas Arts, Skye

3 April, Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist

As part of our ‘It for Others’ film screening, this open reading group draws comparisons between the film and a Scottish island context. This special reading group is open to everyone, and will meet twice — first in Atlas Arts in Skye and secondly in Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist.

The suggested texts aim to stimulate discussion about modern discourse on land use and migration within the area, while also mirroring the implicit criticism within It for Others of further globalisation and historical exploitation of ‘the other’ from western society. Texts are suggested for the first meeting, and the group will set texts for the following meeting.

Resource materials for Part One

The Colonizer and the Colonized, Albert Memmi

Suggested extracts:
‘New introduction’ by Nadine Gordimer
‘Does the colonial exist?’
‘Mythical portrait of the colonized’


Place and Exile: Imperialism, Development and Environment in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland, Joseph Murphy 


In philological terms duthchas is the abstract noun from duthaich or ‘country’ in the same way that luathas means swiftness and luath means swift. So it’s a word like ‘nationality’ (as a way of thinking and acting) or ‘heredity’ or (perhaps) ‘community’. I think it’s a matter of concentric circles: in traditional terms your duthchas centres on your home, and radiates out to take in your glen or island and all of your kindred. At the root of duthaich/duthchas is duth. You also have dual which gives dualchas. Duthchas and dualchas make a pair: patrimony and tradition, or the like. Duthchas is mainly geographic whilst dualchas is mainly cultural. Dualchas includes songs and stories. But both words seem to be used similarly in the sense of rudeigin as dual/duth dhomh – something that’s in my blood.* This discussion suggests that dùthchas refers to an existential sense of being in place. From Gaelic history and culture there are countless which support this. For example, the traditional process of inaugurating a new king involved marrying them to the land. A famous song includes the lines MacGriogair a Ruadhshruth/Dha’m bu.

*No. 378 in the series Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh highlights the difference between the words dùthchas and dualchas. They are often confused because both can be translated as ‘heredity’ or ‘heritage’. More precisely, however, dùthchas means ‘place of origin’ or ‘homeland’ as well as heredity. Dualchas is connected more strongly to hereditary in the context of the family. (Read more)
-- Joseph Murphy

Extract taken from Place and Exile (2009)

Mairi Mhor Nan Oran

“He knew, of course, that the colony was not peopled exclusively by colonists or colonizers. He even had some idea of the colonized from his childhood books; he had seen a documentary movie on some of their customs, preferably chosen to show their peculiarity. But the fact remained that those men belonged to the realms of imagination, books or the theater. His concern with them came indirectly – through images which were common to his entire nation, through military epics or vague strategic considerations. He had been a little worried about them when he too had decided to move to a colony, but no more so than he was about the climate, which might be unfavorable, or the water, which was said to contain too much limestone. Suddenly these men were no longer a simple component of geographical or historical decor. They assumed a place in his life.”

-- Albert Memmi

The Colonizer and the Colonized, 1965


Resource materials for Part Two:



‘Whose Land Is It Anyway’, Dòmhnall Iain Dòmhnallach

Translated transcript of ‘Les Statues Meurent Aussi’Chris Marker and Alain Resnais