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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The revitalization of Scottish history in the 1960s reawakened scholarly interest in overseas connections that had lain more or less dormant since the 1930s. As a result, eighteenth-century Scots have appeared as Virginian tobacco merchants, Jamaican planters, American scholars, African explorers and slave traders, Indian nabobs, and soldiers and doctors seemingly everywhere. With a few notable exceptions, however, these studies of Scots overseas have often been region specific rather than offering a broader imperial or global perspective. This article locates Scotland's experience at the heart of the British Empire and argues that eighteenth-century Scots did not feel themselves confined to British imperial endeavour, but sought advantage in other empires of Europe. This facility to work through alternative imperial traditions had its roots in long-standing personal and mercantile relationships between Scots and northern Europe and Scandinavia, and in the particular circumstances of the demise of Scotland's own independent empire at Darien on the isthmus of Panama.

Keywords: Scotland, British Empire, Europe, Scandinavia, Darien

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