Book Announcement: Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland
Co-authored by Francesca Sobande and layla-roxanne hill, Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland shines a light on Black Scottish history, including the legacy of Black media, arts, activism, and creativity in Scotland.
For years, Sobande and hill have collaboratively researched and written about the experiences and histories of Black people in Scotland – from documenting the work of public figures to reflecting on the daily lives and personal archives of individuals across the nation’s different regions. Their previous publications on this topic include an article, “(Re)viewing race, the marketplace, and public space through the lens of photography”, which was published in the Journal of Marketing Management in 2020. Building on that exploration of “questions concerning who and what is (un)seen and (re)presented in images of marketplace and public space” settings in Scotland, they wrote Black Oot Here.
In Black Oot Here, Sobande and hill combine their love of photography and visual culture with their intention to create work that aids the archiving of Black Scottish history. The result of this creative approach is a book that covers themes and topics such as Black Scottish activism, media, digital culture, and arts – some of which is brought to life by the vivid photography of Najma Hussein Abukar. While the book is based on more than four years of research by Sobande and hill, it is also inspired and informed by the work of many other people, including the 1995 account of June Evans on “African/Caribbeans in Scotland: a socio-geographical study”.
Having lived in parts of Scotland such as Dundee, Dunoon, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, in Black Oot Here, Sobande and hill reflect on some of their own experiences, while foregrounding a range of intergenerational research interviews, survey responses, and their analysis of media and archived material such as press clippings and ephemera related to Black Scottish history from the 1980s to the present day. The book’s discussion of Black Scottish creativity includes reflections regarding how Black Scottish media has changed in recent years, particularly due to the rise of social media and online content-sharing platforms which increasingly impact a “global gaze on Black Scottishness”.
Sobande and hill offer an in-depth discussion of some of Black people’s experiences of the creative and cultural industries, including how these are impacted by inequalities and the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities across different parts of Scotland. Throughout this book, there is critical consideration of questions to do with the relationship between notions of nationhood, Scottishness, and Britishness, such as when discussing the different implications of the expressions “Black Scottish” and “Black in Scotland”.
Paying attention to some of the many ways that Black people in Scotland have collectively paved paths, Sobande and hill push against the idea that Black Scottish history is a history that belongs to a single authority or institution. Overall, Black Oot Here is both a detailed scholarly account of, and clear-eyed ode to, modern Black Scottish history and the longer Black Scottish history that it is part of.
Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland can be purchased from Bloomsbury (as a paperback or hardback). The following 30% discount code can be used at the checkout: BOHFSLRH22