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Scotland and Arbroath 1320 – 2020

700 Years of Fighting for Freedom, Sovereignty, and Independence


Edited By Klaus Peter Müller

700 years of people in Scotland, England, Europe, and the world fighting for freedom, sovereignty, independence and justice are investigated in the essential periods and cultures since the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath: the Middle Ages, the Reformation and Early Modern Age, the English Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Cultural, media, political, and social studies, history, the law, art, philosophy, and literature are used for an analysis of the evolution of human rights, democracy, freedom, individual as well as national independence and justice in connection with past and present threats to them. Threats from politics, the economy, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, people's ignorance.


With contributions by Alasdair Allan MSP, Christopher J. Berry, Neil Blain, Alexander Broadie FRSE, Dauvit Broun, Mark P. Bruce, Ewen A. Cameron, Robert Crawford, Ian Duncan, Richard J. Finlay, David Forrest, Edouard Gaudot, Marjory Harper, Sarah Longlands, Ben McConville, David McCrone, Aileen McHarg, John Morrison, Klaus Peter Müller, Hugh O’Donnell, Murray Pittock, Anthony Salamone, David R. Sorensen, Silke Stroh, Christopher A. Whatley and Ben Wray.

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The Declaration as Polyvalent Signifier: The Semiotics of Absence in the Representation of Scotland (Neil Blain (Stirling))


Neil Blain (Stirling)

The Declaration as Polyvalent Signifier: The Semiotics of Absence in the Representation of Scotland

Abstract: This chapter discusses the symbolic uses of the Declaration, in particular within two contexts: first, that of the lengthy dominance of British over Scottish narratives of collective identity and sovereignty; and second, that of twenty-first century tensions between Scotland’s British and European identities. It poses questions about the interests served by differing interpretations of the Declaration’s meanings and significance. The discussion is placed within a broader consideration of the nature of ‘representation’ both in its significatory and political connotations.

Keywords: History; Arbroath; semiotics; absence; media; Scotland; narrative; identity; sovereignty; nation; union; England; Europe; representation; opposition democracy; internet; Brexit

Time and again they have sold our land to the invader. The Bruce, a Norman, convinced our forefathers that his fight against the English was for Scottish freedom; and, lo, when the invading hosts were driven back, the Bruce handed our common fields to his fellow Normans. For the Stuarts, also Normans, we shed our blood, only to find the chains of tyranny and misery manacle us the more. (Thomas Johnston 1909, viii)

There is a pattern consistent throughout history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors. Slaves against their owners, the peasantry against the feudal barons, colonies, Mr Verhofstadt, against their empires and that is why Britain is leaving. (Ann Widdecombe MEP, speech to the European Parliament, 3 July 2019)


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