Authors Name: 
Alex Longson
University of St Andrews
Award winner

Cinematic representations of Scottish national identity: Sunshine on Leith (2013), a case study

Geographers are increasingly interested in how film functions as a social cartography of meaning creation and identity formation at multiple sites and scales (Lukinbeal 2006). This paper explores how contemporary Scottish cinema produces notions of national identity that are constructed, contested and diverse. Dexter Fletchers musical Sunshine on Leith provides a clear example of how film can be read as an indicator of cultural, social and geo-political discourses of its era. Predominantly engaging in close textual analysis at the site of the image and the reader, the paper draws upon theories of nationalism to establish four visual modalities that compose collective identity, namely: shared narrative, ritual, landscape and optimism. Emphasising the spatiality of identity formation across different sites and scales, the paper explores how these modalities fit into Scottish narratives at the local, national, and international levels. While the paper focusses on Sunshine on Leith, it is also instructive to consider how such an approach would analyse other contemporary Scottish films engagements with the nation in all its complexities, further contributing to the crescent field of Film Geography.