Scottish parliamentary record scholarship in the devolution era

Marsden, Richard (2018). Scottish parliamentary record scholarship in the devolution era. Parliaments, Estates and Representations, 39(1) pp. 113–132.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02606755.2018.1517920

Abstract

In 1707 Scotland’s parliament ceased to exist. Yet it has since been the subject of two monumental acts of record scholarship; the Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland (1814-1875) in the nineteenth century and the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland (2007) in the twenty-first. Using the first of these as a touchstone, this article examines the ways in which the records of the pre-1707 parliament are presented, positioned and interpreted in the second. Unlike the nineteenth-century edition, which was produced in an era when adherence to the 1707 Act of Union with England went all but unquestioned, the twenty-first century version was created during a period of constitutional devolution amidst a national debate over the question of independence from the United Kingdom. Approaching this new edition of parliamentary records as a cultural product, shaped and informed by the context in which it was created, therefore enables us to learn much about how the relationship between history and national identity in Scotland has changed since its predecessor was published. From there, the article questions the assumption that present-day understandings of Scottish identity are primarily civic and forward-looking, and argues that they are in fact partly based on claims which, whether secessionist or devolutionist, are fundamentally historical.

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