As an incomer to these islands I’ve found that this question can result in heated debate. Some folk believe that a Shetlander can be anyone who lives here; others maintain that your family needs to have been in Shetland for at least two generations before you can go making any such claims for yourself. Then of course, there are all kinds of Shetlander definitions in between these two poles.
It’s unrealistic to expect that this magazine will be able to give the subject of Shetland identity the comprehensive treatment it deserves (if you’re interested in reading more on this topic, I’d recommend Mary Malcolm’s 2012 dissertation Shetland Identity Today: is there such a thing?) but we hope that you find this an enjoyable and thought-provoking issue nonetheless. As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the features within these pages, so please keep in touch.
I’ve always felt sympathy for foreign nationals wishing to acquire British citizenship as they struggle to cram for an exam full of facts about UK politics, history and tradition. Recently, I found myself wishing I’d done a bit more cramming, as I attempted Bryan Peterson’s Shetland Citizenship test. After just scraping a pass (with a disappointing 68 per cent) I’ve resolved to work a lot harder with my Shetland studies. John G Graham’s The Shetland Dictionary will be number one on my summer reading list, that’s for sure. Just as well for me that Bryan’s citizenship test focuses on theory: if it were to include practical elements such as casting peats, knitting and baking bannocks then I’d be in danger of being deported.
By the time this issue is on sale, I’ll be on holiday, leaving the August issue in the very capable hands of our regular contributor, Alex Garrick-Wright. See you in September – wishing all of our readers and contributors a wonderful summer.