Peripheral Visions?

Alternative film in a stateless nation

Authored by: Robin MacPherson

The Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415644044
eBook ISBN: 9781315717241
Adobe ISBN: 9781317509417


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Scotland’s media address a stateless nation of over five million people who possess considerable autonomy within the UK yet have received little attention from media studies or related disciplines, generating only two collected volumes in the past four decades (Hutchison, 1978; Blain and Hutchison, 2008). Individual sectors such as publishing, with 500 years of history and considerable international reach, have fared better than, say, television, for which, like the arts in an earlier era, the specificity of the Scottish experience “if not entirely obliterated, then at least [is] mediated through an English lens” (Maley, 1994: 79). In contrast, Scotland has garnered much greater interest from film studies both inside and outside its borders, reflecting a historical screen presence that extends well beyond its own domestic output. However, this growing bibliography simply highlights the paucity of attention given Scotland’s alternative media. Excepting Chris Atton’s work (2000, 2003), it is largely absent from the literature. Undoubtedly Scotland’s relatively modest contribution to alternative media as a whole provides part of the explanation, but this doesn’t wholly explain the gap in domestic (Scottish) scholarship. Rather, there appears to be a certain discursive marginalisation, or misrecognition, of the challenge posed by alternative media and its history in Scotland, not just to the dominant media but to how we think about them. Indeed, the relegation of Scottish alternative media to the scholastic margins is, I suggest, symptomatic of a tendency to treat mainstream Scottish media as the de facto alternative to UK media. This may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient.

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