Highland Clearances expert to work with the University of the Highlands and Islands
An internationally renowned expert on the Highland Clearances will be moving to Dornoch to work with the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Professor Eric Richards of Flinders University, Australia, has accepted a visiting Professorship with the University's Centre for History. His four-month visit to the east Sutherland town is being funded by a grant from the Carnegie Trust.
Having graduated from the University of Nottingham in the 1960s, Professor Richards has a distinguished academic career. He has held positions at universities around the world, including institutions in London, Glasgow, Ohio, Florence and Canberra.
The Welsh-born academic is also a prolific author, having written numerous articles and books on the Highland Clearances and emigration more widely. He was the recipient of the Scottish Art Council's Book Award in 1982, the Scottish History Book of the Year Award in 1999 and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Prize in 2009.
Due to start in 2014, Professor Richard's stint with the University will come shortly after the 200th anniversary of the Strath of Kildonan and Strathnaver Clearances which took place near Helmsdale from 1813. His visit should benefit both his own research and the local community as he hopes to use local archives, teach and supervise students and give talks to history societies and the public.
Speaking about the visit, Professor Richards said: "A Centre for the study of History in a brand new University in the Highlands and Islands is a dream realised. The bicentenary of the northern Clearances coincides with the present regeneration of the region. I can't think of a better time to be visiting UHI at Dornoch, to recharge my own work on the Highlands and to be part of the exciting agenda of the Centre for History. And, as a migrant myself, and a historian of international migration, this will be an ideal historical laboratory. Being in such close proximity to Andrew Carnegie's old home gives the Centenary Professorship an added frisson."
Head of the Centre for History, Dr David Worthington, said: "Professor Richards is a scholar of international renown, a world-class writer and researcher and a gifted and practiced speaker. His career has centred on Scottish, British and Australian history and he is perhaps best known for his ground-breaking work on the Highlands and Islands. This theme is particularly important both to our Centre's research and to the mission of our University. UHI is committed to the development of the Highlands and Islands and having Professor Richards affiliated with the Centre will go a long way towards providing us with the expertise and mentorship we need to make our contribution to this sustainable."
University of the Highlands and Islands Principal and Vice-Chancellor, James Fraser said: "We are delighted that someone of Professor Richards' academic reputation will be associated with the University in this way. It is a testament to the excellent work of the Centre for History staff that the University, in its very first year, should have secured such a prestigious award."
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