Caring for the environment, developing rural communities and ensuring the survival of minority cultures are all laudable objectives, but they can conflict, and nowhere more so than the Scottish Highlands. As environmentalists strive to preserve the scenery and wildlife of the Highlands, the people who belong there, and who have their own claims on the landscape, question this new threat to their culture that dates back thousands of years.
In this sensitive thought-provoking book On the Other Side of Sorrow, James Hunter probes deep into this culture to examine the dispute between Highlanders, who developed a strong environmental awareness a thousand years before other Europeans, and conservationists, whose thinking owes much to the romantic ideals of the nineteenth century. More than that, he also suggests a new way of dealing with the problem, advocating drastic land-use changes and the repopulation of empty glens – an approach which has worldwide implications.
James Hunter is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands and was its first Director of the Centre for History. The author of eleven books about the Highlands and Islands, he has also been active in the public life of the area. In the mid-1980s, he became the first director of the Scottish Crofters Union, and between 1998 and 2004 he was chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the north of Scotland's development agency.