There are many reasons why we need to work to make a space for Scottish Highland heritage in the institutions of higher learning in the US:
- Scottish Gaels were a distinct and vibrant ethnic immigrant group in many parts of North America and Gaelic communities played their part in the historical events, social developments and cultural contributions of their time and place. The lack of development of this field in North America has resulted in a loss of voice for these historic communities and a lack of representation in the relevant scholarship. (See further discussion on this webpage and this webpage.)
- Descendants of the Scottish Highland diaspora, and any aspiring young students, should enjoy the right to learn the language, history, culture, literature, etc., of the Scottish Highlands from those who can give them the skills and training to develop this field properly, alongside and in dialog wth those of all of the other ethnic groups who have constituted America.
- Creating a foothold in academia means having institutional advantages that can be leveraged to address the issues cited above: efforts can be funded by grants from national funding bodies (like the National Endowment for the Humanities), collaborative partnerships can be formed with scholars leading projects in other universities (i.e., in Scotland or Canada), etc.
- Academia carries prestige and weight that allows a subject area to be taken seriously and have an articulate voice at a national level.
See this blog post about how Scottish Gaelic Studies can be developed in American academia.