Spearheaded by the University of Glasgow, this network is a multi-institutional collaboration financed by the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s research networking scheme. The project focuses on the legacy of religion in Scotland. Despite the persisting secularisation of Scottish society, represented by decreasing church attendance, understanding Scotland's religious past is a sine qua non for understanding Scotland's social present.
Religion has served as a principal factor in the formation of Scottish culture by shaping cultural norms, delineating individual and corporate identities, and profoundly influencing the nation's legal and political institutions. Due to its fundamental role in shaping Scottish culture, religion has, moreover, left a lingering legacy that continues to affect the nation on a day-to-day basis. It cannot be ignored.
While the most high profile aspect of this heritage is the blight of sectarianism, something that is a prominent concern of policy makers within the Scottish Government, the fact is that the historical legacy of religion in Scotland continues to be understudied. This in turn has allowed popular myths to persist unchallenged and perpetuated social divisions, mistrust, discrimination and sectarian violence.
The project seeks to deal directly with the role of religion as a formative and yet divisive force in Scottish society and highlight its positive and negative functions in the development of the nation's culture.
While focused on Scotland, the project has international significance. The impact of the Scots diaspora on the wider world means the cultural social legacies of religion in Scotland have been exported and re-established in new contexts. The importance of such international cultural links has been demonstrated in the promotion of such endeavours as the government-supported Homecomings.