Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Andrew Kincaid

Committee Members

George Clark, Jose Lanters, Lane Hall, Elana Levine


Highland Clearances, History, Memory, Postcolonial, Scotland


This dissertation explores the ways that the Highland Clearances of Scotland have entered into public consciousness through primary and secondary sources. My dissertation argues first that the Highland Clearances fall within the sphere of colonial intervention, and secondly that there exists a robust body of cultural production that reflects the postcolonial nature of the Highlands. This cultural production is the subject of my dissertation, which examines primary and secondary histories, historical novels, drama and public memorials that preserve and reconstruct the memory of the Clearances. The first chapter examines a number of primary and secondary histories of the Highland Clearances. The first sections focus primarily on Eric Richards' The Highland Clearances (2000), John Prebble's book, also called The Highland Clearances (1963), and Michael Fry's Wild Scots (2005). The chapter concludes by examining several primary histories, primarily the writings of James Loch and Patrick Seller, two estate managers who oversaw clearances on the Sutherland estate. Chapter two focuses on three historical novels set during the Clearances: Neil Gunn's The Butcher's Broom (1934), Iain Crichton Smith's Consider the Lilies (1968) , and Fionn MacColla's And the Cock Crew (1945). Throughout this chapter, I argue that these three novels constitute a postcolonial literature invested in identifying the colonial forces at work during the Clearances. The third chapter focuses on the work of John McGrath, particularly his play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil . My final chapter considers the ways that the Clearances have been remembered in public memorials and museum installations. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Emigrants Memorial erected in Helmsdale, on the northeast coast and the statue of the First Duke of Sutherland in Golspie. The second section of the final chapter considers the ways that the Clearances have been represented in the National Museum of Scotland and at the Strathnaver Museum. The final section of the fourth chapter examines the memorial that emerged at Croick as a result of the clearance of Glencalvie in 1845.