Intermittent Citizens: Scotland’s Travellers, welfare and the shifting boundary of state and voluntary action in the early twentieth-century

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This article explores the shifting relationship between Scottish Travellers, voluntary and mission action, and the state. Examining missionary and state attempts to settle, assimilate, and turn Scots Travellers into so-called good citizens in the first decades of the twentieth century - initially during the First World War and later in a designated camping scheme in Perthshire - reveals three things. First, many of the techniques used to manage Travellers' behavior were not exceptional but rather can be seen as part of the wider armory deployed by welfare workers and reformers in this period. Often they used the particular sites of the mission hall, schoolroom, and camping ground to inculcate good citizenship. Second, the boundary between state and voluntary action was never fixed. And third, exploring how this boundary shifted over time can lead to a better understand of how Travellers were positioned as citizens at a time when both who was considered a citizen and what that might mean were profoundly changing. In this way, this article not only extends our understanding of Gypsy and Traveller history but also contributes to histories of the state, citizenship, and voluntary action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-661
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of British Studies
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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