The individual chapters of this Guide have charted the key themes that have emerged in response to Scottish literature over the past 30 years. In terms of the relationship between literature and place, we saw that certain critics have sought to resist whilst others have sought to re-inscribe the nation as a fundamental unit of signification. Such theoretical manoeuvres coincide with the revival of the national question within the peripheral regions of the United Kingdom and, in the late 1990s, the establishment of devolved parliaments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. In Scotland the future trajectory of the debate remains open-ended. Is devolution a half-way house on the road to independence, or the final stopgap to shore up a disintegrating British union? Such a question remains to be answered. At present an SNP Government sits in Holyrood on an election manifesto that includes, among other things, a referendum on outright independence from the United Kingdom. In terms of literature, as the work of Cairns Craig, Robert Crawford and others has made clear, if the nation is to continue to partake in the discussion about Scottish literature, it must look to do so in a complex and theoretically sophisticated way. The politics of national identity can no longer be constructed in reaction to oversimplified stories of historical subjugation. Increasingly there is a popular awareness of the dynamism of Scotland’s past and the importance of its interaction with other cultures, beyond that of its immediate southern neighbour. Moreover, in the twenty-first century, with narratives of globalisation, multi-culturalism and consumerism, we are interrogating a highly complex cultural terrain. In this rapidly changing climate it remains to be seen whether the nation, as a political and ideological unit, can continue to influence how we think about individuals, communities and their relationship to one another.
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