Northern Cultural Performance

An Ethnographic Study of Northern Cultural Performance

This ethnographic study of northern cultural performance - focused on music, song, dance, spoken word, foodways and customs - to explore the relationship between northern cultural practices and the world views of those who shape and are shaped by them.

Concepts of temperament and cultural expressions of emotion are often framed by outsiders’ experience of local cultural performance – outward, often material, expressions of identity, belonging and community. Prominent among these cultural performances are the musical and the verbal arts, which offer a revealing window into a society’s preoccupations and apprehensions.

Through a broad-based study of cultural performance forms, practices, skills and gatekeeping roles, this project investigated the relationship between cultural practices and their surrounding environments.

Ethnographic fieldwork (interviewing, photography and videography) allowed the triangulation of the northern expression of emotion and temperament as it is lived and performed. The analytical transcription of events, rather than simply sounds, aimed to demonstrate the depth of creativity that contributed to mood and mindset and, by extension, to the strength and resilience of northern communities.

The fieldwork-derived materials lent themselves to a variety of interpretative frameworks, from performance studies to linguistic analysis.