Prof. Kevin James Named to Research Chair | College of Arts

Prof. Kevin James Named to Research Chair


The Centre for Scottish Studies at the University of Guelph is the oldest and the leading academic unit in North America for research, graduate training, and teaching on Scottish history and Scottish culture. It is thanks to the steadfast and generous support of the Scottish Studies Foundation that the Scottish Studies Centre in the College of Arts at Guelph continues to gain a distinguished reputation as a global centre of research. The Centre’s preeminence is exemplified by the externally endowed Scottish Studies Foundation Chair, whose establishment in 2004 was a signal achievement in the advancement of Scottish scholarship. Its first chairholders were distinguished historians who worked at Edinburgh University before their appointments at the University of Guelph: Professor Graeme Morton, now Chair of Modern History at the University of Dundee, and Professor James E. Fraser.

It with great pleasure that we announce that Professor Kevin James in the Department of History, a prolific author who appears frequently in the media in Canada and the United Kingdom, has agreed to hold the Scottish Studies Foundation Chair for a renewable seven-year term. Professor James, a leading scholar of modern Scottish tourism and travel history, has held numerous national and international grants and fellowships at leading research centres around the world. He has published three books and many articles in economic, social and cultural history. Professor James is keen to commence work “to extend our links with scholars in Scotland and around the world and collaborate with our partners in the community who realized this Chair through the Scottish Studies Foundation. Through these partnerships, we will amplify the vitality of Scottish research at the University of Guelph—the premier site of innovative scholarship on Scotland outside the United Kingdom. Our exceptional archival collections, our world-renowned faculty, and our outstanding students are the resources upon which this vision of Scottish Studies was built over many decades, and they are the foundations of our bright future.”

Dean Samantha Brennan is thrilled with the announcement, looking forward to the possibilities for the Chair under Professor James’s direction considering the “dynamic combination of his research skills, publication record, and the energy and enthusiasm he has for the Scottish Studies community.” Professor Sofie Lachapelle, Department Chair and Professor in the Department of History at the University of Guelph, is delighted with the announcement: "I know I speak for all of us when I say that I look forward to working with and supporting Kevin in his new role as Scottish Studies Foundation Chair, which has been and continues to be a significant strength of our department." Mary Walsh, Senior Development Manager, says she is excited to partner with Professor James as he takes on his new role: “Professor James is a world-class scholar and a highly dedicated and skilled administrator; he is the perfect person to lead Scottish Studies forward to achieve its fundraising priorities.” And David Hunter, President of the Scottish Studies Foundation, who made the announcement, said: “All of us on the Board of Directors are delighted with this well-deserved appointment and are looking forward to hearing Kevin’s plans and wish him the best of success in this exciting new chapter in his career.”
Professor James has new plans to place Guelph at the centre of innovative research uncovering Scotland's past and exploring its future, in a global framework. He has established two undergraduate research fellowships connected to the Centre to fund cutting-edge research into Scotland's history and evolving place in the world. He has launched an award to support visits to Guelph’s renowned Scottish collections by scholars from across Canada and around the world, in collaboration with the McLaughlin Library’s Archival and Special Collections and the Office of the Chief Librarian. The Centre is embarking upon a campaign to continue to recruit world-class graduate students through funded fellowships. Professor James is excited to explore partnerships and new initiatives with all sections of the community. He has identified the library's exceptional collection of medieval charters (the earliest of which date from c.1330), pamphlets from the period of the Jacobite rebellions, and records of modern Scottish culinary history as critical resources for strategic development, alongside manuscript travel records and travel ephemera. This material provides a foundation for intensified research into histories of intercultural encounters, entrepreneurialism, and economic and social development in Scotland and around the world which have direct relevance today.

Professor James works in partnership with the McLaughlin Library, which holds within its Archival and Special Collections the largest number of printed and manuscript materials related to Scotland outside the UK. With those exceptional resources, and a Department of History that has the largest faculty of Scottish History scholars outside the UK, boasting a long record of graduate success and research innovation, Professor James is well-positioned to expand the impact of the Scottish Studies Foundation Chair. He plans to build on the already outstanding record of collaboration with the wider community—both within and beyond the Scottish-Canadian diaspora. Professor James will work to deepen those ties further, particularly those with the Scottish Studies Foundation, whose members’ generosity is reflected in the name of the endowed chair which he holds. The years ahead promise new directions for research and new opportunities to strengthen partnerships with the public and the global research community under his leadership.

For more information, questions, comments, and conversations about ways the Chair can serve the community, please contact Professor James at