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Na Gàidheil Ùra ~ New Gaels: A Global Future for the Scottish Gaelic Language - UNC English & Comparative Literature

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Na Gàidheil Ùra ~ New Gaels: A Global Future for the Scottish Gaelic Language

October 22, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Public Lecture by Member of the Scottish Parliament Kate Forbes, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy for the Scottish Government & Professor Robert Dunbar, Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities, University of Edinburgh

Lecture to be followed by light refreshments.



The Scottish Heritage USA Visiting Lectureship in Scottish Gaelic Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is delighted to welcome Member of the Scottish Parliament Kate Forbes and Professor Robert Dunbar, department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh to discuss Scottish Gaelic as an endangered yet vibrant global language.

In this UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, our speakers will share their visions for the future of Scottish Gaelic in both indigenous and global contexts. Together, they will highlight the international importance of minoritized languages in recognizing, maintaining and celebrating their remarkable contributions to humanity’s cultural diversity. Collaborations between national and international partners in governance, education, and community development have resulted in legal mechanisms working to turn the tide of linguistic endangerment, from Scotland’s Gaelic Language Act (2005) to the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992).

In addition, MSP Forbes and Professor Dunbar will emphasise the central role of the matchless knowledge systems intergenerationally transmitted and conveyed in the language from the heartlands of Scotland’s Hebrides and Highlands, to communities of new speakers in Scotland’s urban centres, and across the Atlantic in the living North American diaspora. Ultimately, our guests will highlight how Gaelic and other minority cultures are embracing these traditions anew as roadmaps to their future resiliency.

KATE FORBES, MSP (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) is Scotland’s Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy.

From the Highland community of Dingwall, Forbes spent part of her early life in both Glasgow and India and is a graduate of Gaelic-medium education. She holds degrees in History from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh with a focus on human migration. Prior to being elected to the Scottish Parliament, she worked as an accountant in the banking industry.

Since taking office, Forbes has served on the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, the Health and Sport Committee and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. She also served as Parliamentary Liaison Officer for Finance and the Constitution.

In addition to leading a campaign to ban plastic straws, Forbes has participated in several cross-party groups at Holyrood including Crofting, Gaelic, Human Trafficking, Palliative Care and Rural Policy. A fluent Gaelic speaker, Kate made history in 2018 by becoming the first female MSP to give a plenary speech entirely in Gaelic in the current Scottish Parliament chamber. Since 2019 she has served the Scottish Government’s Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy.

ROBERT DUNBAR is Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh’s department of Celtic and Scottish Studies.
Prior to assuming the Chair, he served as a Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and Research Director of the inter-university Soillse Research Project ( Previously, he had served as a Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Glasgow (1995-2004) and Reader then Professor in Celtic and Law at the University of Aberdeen (2004-2010).

A native of Canada, Professor Dunbar has been involved in Gaelic language development for over twenty years, and has worked with international organizations such as the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, national and sub-national governments as well as governmental and non-governmental organisations on issues broadly relating to the maintenance and revitalization of minority languages and the protection of their speakers. Dunbar was involved in the development of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 as well as the creation of BBC Alba, Scotland’s Gaelic digital television service.
His scholarship focuses on Gaelic literature, culture and society from the late-eighteenth to the early-twentieth centuries, on Gaelic in Canada, and on law and policy for Gaelic and other Celtic Languages. In addition to ongoing work in these areas, he is currently working on Gaelic autobiographical writing and Gaelic humour, the completion of a biography and literary assessment of the Bard John Maclean (1787-1848) of Tiree and Nova Scotia, a scholarly edition of Maclean’s secular song-poems, and a monograph on law and policy for Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales, and Irish in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Please, give your support!
Building on the success of SHUSA’s Inaugural Visiting Lectureship in Scottish Gaelic Studies at UNC-CH, let us join together in our efforts to establish a permanent Chair dedicated to the cherished language, literature, and culture of the Scottish Highlands and their vibrant legacies in North Carolina and beyond…

Donate: Checks may be made out to UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation. Put ‘Fund #104581’ on the memo line of your check. Or: go to Click on ‘Find a Specific Fund.’ Enter ‘Scottish Heritage’ and you will be directed to the correct page.


October 22, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm


FedEx Global Education Center Auditorium
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516 United States
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