Cristina Riaño Alonso

‘My native land sae far awa’: Identity and Community in Maud Sulter’s “Service to Empire”

The aim of this paper is to discuss the relation between identity, community and history in the play “Service to Empire” (2002), written by Glaswegian-Ghanaian writer, visual artist and cultural historian Maud Sulter. Firstly, drawing from space and affect theories I will interrogate the construction of community in this play. Thus, I will discuss the social and spatial mechanisms used by the Scottish community in Ghana to isolate themselves from the African natives; while at the same time attempting to maintain a strong sense of Scottishness. Secondly, I will consider the character of JJ in this play as a figure representing the embodied black stranger, who is recognised as a body out of place when he goes back to Scotland, his ‘fatherland’. To conclude, I will argue that this play constitutes a form of memorialisation of the Scottish imperial connection with Africa, as well as an account of the black presence in Scotland. Thus, it will be concluded that this play contributes to making audible a silenced version of Scottish history while, at the same time, giving the African-Scottish community a sense of entailment to participate in the production of contemporary Scottishness.

Cristina Riaño Alonso, University of Oviedo, Spain