Film Screening of ‘European voices in Edinburgh’ Followed by Discussion by Lin Li

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • This will be a preview of a short film (about 40 minutes long) which I have just completed about four European nationals who are living in Edinburgh.
  • Before the screening I will present an overview of migration to Edinburgh from other EU countries based mainly on population statistics.
  • The screening will be followed by a Q&A and a discussion of some of the issues raised in the film.

(With thanks to: Laila Kjellström, Amaya Bañuelos Marco, Justyna Matyjasik, Konstanze and Mànus McLeod)


A few paragraphs on your subject:

I moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh in 2016 and one of my first impressions of this city is the multiplicity of languages I could hear in the street or on buses. Apart from the fact that Edinburgh attracts numerous tourists from abroad particularly in the summer, it also has a high number of non-UK born residents (the highest among all council areas in Scotland in the 2011 census).


As an immigrant myself, I am interested in and very comfortable with such cultural diversity. In order to find out more about my new home city, I wanted to make a film about Edinburgh and some of its citizens who have come from other countries. As my move took place around the time of the Brexit referendum, I decided to focus on a number of European immigrants who have been living here for some years and asked them to introduce me to a location in or around Edinburgh which they like or has special significance to them.


The outcome is a filmic portrait of four migrants from different EU countries – Poland, Germany, Sweden and Spain. The participants were filmed at the location of their choice. Being interested in the sonic quality of different languages, I asked these migrants to speak in their mother tongue, and English subtitles are provided in the film.


Lin Li European voices in Edinburgh


They talk about their migration history and sense of rootedness, their perception of Edinburgh, and the possible impact Brexit may have on their stay in Scotland. Their narrative as well as their choice of filming locations reveal elements of their identity, values and outlook. Sense of place is closely tied to the relationships between its inhabitants. Making this film has enabled me to form a connection with Edinburgh through personal encounters and conversations with the four migrants who took part in the project.


The places I was introduced to have taken on meanings associated with these individuals. While statistics can outline the shape and form of the population of a city, it is personal stories which make up the colours and texture of the picture. The more such stories there are, the more vivid and richer the picture will become. As someone who has moved across continents, I am particularly interested in the participants’ perspective as migrants, but their background and experiences are very different from mine and from one another’s.


It is such diversity which makes the picture colourful. But despite the differences, there are sentiments these European migrants have expressed in their narrative that I, and probably many other viewers, would resonate with because of our shared humanity.

A few paragraphs about you:

Originally from Hong Kong, I have been living in the UK since the 1980s with the majority of the years spent in Scotland. In the last two decades, I have gradually built up a creative practice mainly in the visual media but increasingly more in sounds. Since 2011, I have been making short experimental videos and documentaries. With an academic background in psychology, I am particularly interested in individual experiences and the documentaries which I have made reflect this interest. For more information about my works, please refer to


Before I embarked on my artistic practice, I had been employed as a researcher in Glasgow University and Dundee University and the research projects I was involved in were largely on migration issues (with my publications mostly under the name F L N Li). Although my own academic training was in psychology, these projects were conducted with geographers who taught me a lot about the relationship between identity and place.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend?

The Scottish Government has published two documents on migration into Scotland in recent years: The impact of migrants and migration into Scotland (published in 2016)


Click to Download: 'The impacts of migrants and migration into Scotland'
Click to Download: ‘The impacts of migrants and migration into Scotland’


Online Source:


Characteristics of migrants in Scotland: Analysis of the 2011 Census (First published March 2015; revised October 2016)

Click to Download: 'Characteristics of migrants in Scotland; Analysis of the 2011 Census'
Click to Download: ‘Characteristics of migrants in Scotland; Analysis of the 2011 Census’


Online Source:


What are your weblinks?

Website –


This event took place at St John’s Church Community Hall (Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 4BJ) on 8th July 2018