ASA14: Anthropology and Enlightenment

(P43)

A tartan imaginary: cultural identity through the looking glass of the 'Scottish' second sight phenomena

Location Quincentenary Building, Wadsworth Room
Date and Start Time 22 June, 2014 at 14:00

Convenor

Iain Edgar (Durham University) email
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Summary

This panel analyses the distinctive historical and contemporary experience of 'Scottishness(es)' through the study of the tradition of the 'second sight' phenomena. There will be cross-cultural reference to vision, dream and divinatory practices studied within other comparable world cultures.

Long Abstract

In the background of this panel is the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence which will comprehensively challenge and evoke all known aspects of 'being Scottish'. This panel intends to illuminate the distinctive historical and contemporary experience of 'Scottishness(es)' through the consideration and study of the tradition of the second sight from antiquity to modern times. Such a reported visionary and dream tradition is deeply rooted in Scottish folk tales, especially Highland ones. The panel will analyse the warp and the weft of interaction between personal, experiential imaginative creativity and the social and collective imaginary, and accompanying embodied praxis, of 'being Scottish'. The formative role of Celtic, Norse and Christian imaginaries will be considered, as well as cross-cultural reference to the role of vision, dream and divinatory practices studied within other comparable world cultures. Archival and ethnographic studies are equally welcome, as are studies of the making of a communicative personal and social imaginative identity amongst emigrant Scottish communities. How the 'second sight' intuitive phenomenon intersects with immigrant populations, who often have their own visionary traditions and practices, is also an intended theme. The anticipated outcome, indeed the elixir, will be the theorising and demonstration of the creative interaction between personal and cultural imaginative forms and consequent individual and collective identities.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

A tartan imaginary: cultural identity through the looking glass of the 'Scottish' second sight phenomena

Author: Iain Edgar (Durham University)  email

Summary

This paper analyses the distinctive historical and contemporary experience of 'Scottishness(es)' through the study of the tradition of the 'second sight' phenomena. There will be cross-cultural reference to vision, dream and divinatory practices studied within other comparable world cultures.

Long Abstract

In the background of this paper is the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence which will comprehensively challenge and evoke all known aspects of 'being Scottish'. This paper intends to illuminate the distinctive historical and contemporary experience of 'Scottishness(es)' through the consideration and study of the tradition of the second sight from antiquity to modern times. Such a reported visionary and dream tradition is deeply rooted in Scottish folk tales, especially Highland ones. The paper will analyse the warp and the weft of interaction between personal, experiential imaginative creativity and the social and collective imaginary, and accompanying embodied praxis, of 'being Scottish'. The formative role of Celtic, Norse and Christian imaginaries will be considered, as well as cross-cultural reference to the role of vision, dream and divinatory practices studied within other comparable world cultures.

The superstitious anthropologist: reflections on fieldwork, teaching and informants' ideas of the future

Author: Gareth Hamilton (University of Latvia)  email

Summary

I consider how my experiences growing up in Scots-settled Northern Ireland, in a superstitious environment, have affected my anthropological career in terms of research & teaching. Part 1: Ulster-Scots upbringing; part 2: fieldwork experiences, informants; part 3: teaching & local superstitions.

Long Abstract

In this paper I consider how my experiences growing up in a Scots-settled area of the north of Ireland, in a superstitious environment, have thus far affected my anthropological career in terms of both research and teaching. With a starting point in the first section of an environment of pseudo-Christian, Ulster Scots and traditional Irish mystic beliefs surrounding how actions and events (intended or happenstance) affect or appear as signs or harbingers of the future, I present some of the superstitious ideas which have affected me deeply while conflicting with the Enlightenment-inspired notions of rationality inculcated by a conservative education system. In the second part, I question how this has affected my approach to fieldwork, including anticipating its vicissitudes before departing to the field, as well as during it. In so doing, I compare and contrast this sense of prediction of the future with the self-employed persons - whose own vision of the future was important in their career choice and its maintenance - I met during fieldwork in Halle an der Saale in eastern Germany. In the third section I consider the experiences of teaching beginner anthropology students abroad. In particular, and in mind of those above-mentioned questions of Enlightenment-inspired notions of rationality, I highlight my feelings of discomfort when seemingly risking 'de-bunking' local superstitions, such as a quasi-mortal fear of indoor draughts, when dealing with ideas of belief, in light of my own heavily inculcated superstitions.

Gaucho clothing: a study about regional identities in Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil

Author: Ceres Brum (Universidade Federal de Santa Maria)  email

Summary

In this reflection I intend to show an ethnography about The Gaucho Traditionalist as a cultural movement that worships the historical and mythical figure of the gaucho in the present - a diacritic that potentialize identifications related to the affirmation of the regional.

Long Abstract

The Traditionalists represent the invention of the gaucho in various ways, producing a complex cultural universe that includes, among other elements: clothing, language, dance, food, animals, songs, work. These representations are characterized as gaucho traditions and related to the typical gaucho. My objective is, on one side, to perform a reflection about the set of circumstances that led the Traditionalists to produce the prenda dress as a typical feminine outfit, to be used by women (called prendas) in the Gaucho Tradition Centers (CTGs). The Center of Gaucho Traditions (or just CTG) is a space where the gaucho is venerated, a kind of social club where fandangos (balls) and other Traditionalist activities are organized. The CTG, in its structure, appropriates and re-signifies the names of ancient farms.

On the other side, I want to show that the prenda dress and the other pieces of the Traditionalist clothing can be understood as artifacts that possess multiple meanings and agency. They constitute elements responsible by the production of the gaucho and traditions, becoming a passport to penetrate the past and live it in the present. This way, reflecting about the gaucho clothing, its uses and multiple significations implies revisiting a series of questions that refer to individual and collective identities, the living of the typical and its consumption in current days. Questions intersected by the ideas of nation and region, folklore and history, education, pedagogy and imaginary, closely related to the outfits and their history.

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This panel is closed to new paper proposals.