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The interests of the Elphinstone Institute are international as well as local, since the great diaspora of Scots from the North stretches around the world. The study of local traditional culture is combined, as it must always be, with the study of wider connections so that the two perspectives are seen to be interdependent. These wider connections involve, for instance, the historical effect of emigration from the North: the arc that sweeps from the Carolinas through Scotland and Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic is one that has seen substantial emigration from Scotland's shores.
The cultural life of emigrants from the North has often retained elements lost to the original homeland, or has added a newer perspective on tradition. In contrast, recent immigration into the North has shown that incomers not only adapt to the personality of the region but bring to it idioms which add cultural richness. The task of the Institute, therefore, is to make sense of these processes as they take on cultural significance in an increasingly technological world.
The richness and significance of the oral and cultural traditions of the Scottish Travelling people have been recognised since the 1950s through the pioneering work of Hamish Henderson, Alan Lomax, and others connected with the School of Scottish Studies. However, there has not previously been a documentation of Traveller culture conducted from 'the inside', and most of the previous recording of Traveller traditions dates from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This new project, based at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will help to fill a gap in the record.
Stanley Robertson, one of Scotland's leading storytellers and ballad singers, has been appointed as the Keyworker for the project. As an acknowledged expert and member of the Traveller community, Stanley will document his own lore and that of other members of this group, and promote the cultural traditions of Scottish Travellers among young people, in schools and community groups, including young Travellers. Stanley is a nephew of the late Jeannie Robertson (1908-1975), acknowledged as the greatest singer of ballads ever recorded in Scotland. His knowledge of ballads and lore equals that of his aunt and he is also a renowned singer, storyteller and writer.
The project aims to raise the awareness of children and young people to the rich heritage of Traveller traditions, especially through interactive workshops of song and story, and to document and record Traveller oral and cultural tradition, including songs, ballads, stories, language, customs, beliefs, occupations, family life, and in general their contribution to society.
The Elphinstone Institute welcomes research visitors and, upon application, will accord suitable qualified visitors official status with the following benefits.
Page last updated: Tuesday, 27-Sep-2005 15:25:25 BST
The Elphinstone Institute
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