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Death in the DiasporaBritish and Irish Gravestones$
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Nicholas Evans and Angela McCarthy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474473781

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474473781.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

Documents in Stone: Records of Lives and Deaths of Scots Abroad and in Scotland

Documents in Stone: Records of Lives and Deaths of Scots Abroad and in Scotland

(p.176) 8 Documents in Stone: Records of Lives and Deaths of Scots Abroad and in Scotland
Death in the Diaspora

John M. MacKenzie

Edinburgh University Press

It is a striking fact that imperial peoples seem to have a powerful desire to commemorate the dead as grandly as possible. This was certainly true of the British Empire as some grandly overblown cemeteries in India and South-East Asia amply testify. This chapter discusses why this might be true – examining the influence of exoticism, a sense of heroic lives (often cut short since the exotic is also dangerous), a search for immortality, in some cases a desire for racial distancing, plus the fact that materials and labour were perhaps cheaper than at home. Some memorials, notably in cathedrals and churches, were however produced by some of the most notable sculptors of the day and were exported at considerable cost. As far as Scottish graves are concerned, it is an extraordinary fact that many families seem to have had a desire to commemorate the deaths of relatives overseas, even although their bodies were buried in distant places. Thus, a scattered family might be brought together on a single stone. This chapter is illustrated with examples of both these phenomena and discusses why diasporic imperial deaths were noticed so prominently.

Keywords:   Migration, diaspora, British imperialism, military death, India, South Africa, Scotland, epitaphs, symbolism, sculpture

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