The Neighbours is a portrait of contemporary and multicultural Scottish society. In this new world of connectivity and global exchange, anyone can become your neighbour regardless the nationality, cultural or religious background. I believe that it is important to have a record of the current circumstances and to consider how past events have shaped our world. The current political climate is eroding the benefits of a diverse society and I want to remind us of the significance of the wonderful cultural mosaic we are living in. Reasons for migrations vary from the political, the economical and to curiosity, a wanderlust. My aim was to illustrate this variety by meeting and photographing people who have moved from their countries of birth and settled in Scotland. By photographing and interviewing my sitters in their private environment I tried to show a part of their life and to encourage the viewers to draw their own conclusions.
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To highlight that migration and multicultural societies are not a new occurrence I researched communities and individuals who came to Scotland many years ago. Polish soldiers who stayed here after the Second World War or Jewish families who settled down in Scotland in the 19th century are good examples. These examples are just a part of a much wider and interesting multicultural story of this Northern European nation. We can’t forget about Scotland’s links with Asian, African and Commonwealth countries that are a direct result of the colonial past of the British Empire. There is of course a rich and continuous history of mutual influences between England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
Foreign students are important to the Scottish economy: in Aberdeen alone the amount of money spent by international students every year is around £67 million. The last ten years brought many changes to the Scottish society; many people from EU countries have settled here; Scotland has become even more diverse and multicultural. In 2012/13 pupils at schools in Aberdeen spoke 76 different main home languages. Polish is the second most common home language of school pupils in Aberdeen after English and ahead of Arabic and Malayalam.
Poles make up the largest foreign-born group in Scotland, comprising 1.6 % of the total population. About 86,000 Poles lived in Scotland in 2015 compared to just 3000 in 2001. Click for more data.
Most of us are descendants of migrants or migrants ourselves and histories of all countries, even the most distant are bounded together by people who were, are and will be constantly on the move around the world. We're all fae somewhere.
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