Chapter 7: Migrating to Scottish insular communities: how remoteness affects integration by shaping borders and identities
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Migration to the Scottish Western Isles is not new, yet the early 2000s witnessed a new trend. International and notably European migrants responded to local enterprises’ call for labour resulting from an ageing and declining population. This chapter analyses the integration of migrant communities in the Western Isles, and the effect of the islands’ remoteness on political and sociocultural border representation and identity enactment. Building on qualitative interviews, we discuss how ‘making remoteness’ in the Western Isles takes the form of resistance to central spaces’ cultures and practices embodied by community landownership, respect for Sabbatarian temporality, and the common use of Gaelic. These elements are key to the local identity’s construction and performance, and thereby its borders. We argue that remote communities’ emphasis on ‘local’ homogenous identity can present an obstacle to integration, especially where this is understood as assimilation. We also investigate how awareness of incoming migrants’ important role in revitalizing these ageing and shrinking communities and in the local economy can be an essential enabler of integration.