National Identities – A Scottish-Bavarian comparison

The Bavarian Minister for Culture and Education and senior academics from the University of Glasgow and the University of Munich will be offering their views on national identity in a major conference that will take place at the University of Glasgow on Thursday 17 May 2012.

Organised by the School of Humanities, “National Identities – a Scottish-Bavarian comparison”, will include a speech on “Bavaria, Germany and Europe” from Dr Ludwig Spaenle, Bavarian Minister for Culture and Education.

Dr Spaenle said, “In their respective states both Scotland and Bavaria are known as countries representing a world apart, countries where people are determined to have their own way. What interests me is how our Scottish friends see their identity and what conclusions they draw from this identity on a political and cultural level.”

“Europe unifies states and regions with very different histories, ideas and governance. In Bavaria in our immediate neighbourhood we have seen exciting changes with regard to state structures after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.  German unity has been achieved and is still taking shape whilst the regions epitomizing various traditions and view points are living on. But no two cases of regional consciousness are identical.  I am very much interested in getting to know the situation in Scotland, a country that since modern times has been linked in statehood to England, but that nevertheless has been able to preserve its own identity. What is more, as a Central European I would like to get a feeling for the way Scotland might be changing and get a sense of how you conceive the development of your country within the European framework.”

The event, which is co-financed by the German Consulate, will be introduced by Professor Sönke Neitzel of the University of Glasgow.

“Germans are fascinated by the current debate on the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Although the knowledge on Scottish history in particular is limited, there are a lot of sympathies for the Scottish wish for more independence - especially in Bavaria. Bavaria is also clear about its place within Germany as an area with the strongest cultural identity, its own very special dialect, history and culture.”

“Whilst there is no serious wish for political independence in Bavaria, not least because it already enjoys considerable autonomy under federalism. The sense of separate identity remains very important for Bavarians and there is a fear about how this might be kept alive and vibrant in a period of globalisation. The conference will explore some of these themes and look at what lessons Scotland might learn from Bavaria, and vice-versa.”

Other aspects of the conference include Professor Dauvit Broun and Dr Catriona Macdonald from the University of Glasgow who will offer historical perspectives on being Scottish, while Professor Ferdinand Kramer, of the University of Munich will talk on "A Thousand Years and more of History": Bavarian Identities and Politics.” Also in attendance will be the German Consul General, Wolfgang Moessinger.

The conference - National Identities – A Scottish-Bavarian comparison - will take place at the University of Glasgow from 1400-1800 on Thursday 17 May.

First published: 16 May 2012

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