News Details

The North Opening Event - Elphinstone

Shelfmark: Lib R 91(48:471) Ace   Title: Travels through Sweden, Finland and Lapland to the North Cape in 1798 and 1799    Author: Giuseppe Acerbi, 1773-1846
Shelfmark: Lib R 91(48:471) Ace Title: Travels through Sweden, Finland and Lapland to the North Cape in 1798 and 1799 Author: Giuseppe Acerbi, 1773-1846

At least two projects were discussed around each Stall and Round Table with individual projects being associated with large teams of researchers.

Stalls:

  1. Music in the North: Co-ordinated by David Smith, Ross Whyte, Peter Stollery
  2. Language in the North: Co-ordinated by Mercedes Durham and Alex King
  3. Scandinavian Studies: Co-ordinated by Lisa Collinson
  4. Geology, Hydrology and Climate Change: Co-ordinated by Alastair Dawson, Graeme Paton, Randell Stephenson, Doug Mair, Anatole Boute, Stephen Bowden, John Parnell and Christian Birkel
  5. Biodiversity in the North: Co-ordinated by Jon Collinson and David Johnson
  6. Health in the North: Co-ordinated by Jennifer Cleland, David Heaney and Tony Ormerod
  7. Connecting Communities in the North: Co-ordinated by Do Coyle and Donald Gray
  8. North Sea World – Co-ordinated by Jackson Armstrong and Ian Russell
  9. Colonial Histories and Governance in the North: Co-ordinated by Alison Brown and Michael Brown
  10. Archaeology in the North: Co-ordinated by Peter Jordan

During lunch break there was a special display by the Northern Rivers Institute: Co-ordinated by Doerthe Tetzlaff

Round Tables:

Table 1 - The Northerner: David Heaney

The focus of this package was the promotion of healthy, active, empowered, and innovative Northern citizenship. The region faces challenges of geography, demographic change, economic downturn , and climate change. The opportunity is there to utilise technology and innovative working to meet these challenges, and make the region vibrant, prosperous and attractive to live in. 

By comparing similarities and differences between Northern countries, we will seek transnational understanding of the issues faced and how best to address them.  A series of studies across the North will investigate:

  • Health and well-being
  • Organisation of health and social services
  • Use of technology in everyday life
  • Infrastructure and transport
  • Wealth, employment, income and inequality

Each study will collate available data across countries, where possible in both urban and remote and rural areas, and collect new data which informs how some areas in the North have achieved success.

The Dour North: The Expression of Depressive Disorder in Northern Cultures and its Impact on Detection and Treatment: Isobel Cameron (Applied Helath Sciences), Arnar Arnason (Anthropology), John Crawford (Psychology), Ian Reid (Applied Health Sciences), Zoe Skea (Health Sciences Research Unit), Justin Williams  (Applied Health Sciences)

Depressive disorder is viewed as a universal phenomenon with differing cultural expressions in symptomatology.  Manifestation of depressive symptoms may be influenced by cultural variations in the expression of emotion, concept of identity and language. This has implications for how depression is experienced, detected, diagnosed and treated. A round table discussion is proposed for the topic of depressive symptom manifestations specific to northern cultures and the technologies that could be applied to track mood and behaviour among large and clinical populations. We anticipate a broad range of disciplines may have valuable contributions to make in investigating this topic.

Table 2 - Diet and Disease in the North:  Jenny Gregory

Living in a Northern environment brings specific issues relating to diet and disease. For example, there is a high incidence of Multiple Sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease in Scotland whilst rickets was common during Scottish industrialisation.

This package would be truly interdisciplinary, have both modern and historical aspects and involving researchers from across the University. Changing patterns of diet, genetics and disease would be assessed by analysing university collections, including archaeological and modern human skeletons. This project would consider the social and cultural implications, investigating issues such as:

  1. impact of the spread of a Western diet among indigenous people in the sub-Arctic and Arctic
  2. impact of industrialisation and the North Sea stockfish trade
  3. diets of fishing and farming communities
  4. plague in the North
  5. environmental and social background to disease in the North
  6. history of Northern medicine
  7. changes in the importance of fish in the diet

Changes in Crop Cultivation in Northern Scotland and Impact on Health-Related Bioactivity: Charles S Bestwick, Wendy R Russell, Susan J Duthie

Sustainable food production by effective and efficient use of local resources is a major policy issue for the Scottish Government. The vital importance of diet to the health of the Scottish people is outlined in the Scottish Diet Action Plan (1996) and its subsequent review (2005). Recently the Scottish Government launched its innovative cross-remit National Food and Drink Policy (2009), which highlights not only the importance of food production in Scotland economically, but also the critical impact that food has on Scotland’s health and environment. 

While much effort has been made to optimise Scottish crops in terms of food production, historically, changes in farming that were designed to select for speed of growth, taste and appearance have led to a reduction or even elimination in natural plant products with valuable properties implicated in prevention or amelioration of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Specific mechanisms of action of these phytochemicals may include anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-angiogenic and anti-genotoxic effects. 

In this proposal, we will identify metabolite profiles and functional activities for ancestral and recent crop cultivars, mapping changes in crop cultivation techniques and conditions in the North to effects on phytochemical diversity within the crop and investigating the implications for health or nutritional bioactivity. This work will involve established collaborations with other research partners in Scotland.

Table 3 -The Effect of Light on Health in the North: Helen Macdonald

There is a clear ‘North – South divide’ for vitamin D status, with the North being disadvantaged because of overall insufficient sunlight exposure to wavelengths required for cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D [1], and the fact that diet provides little vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunlight.  The elderly in particular are vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency which may influence falls and fractures. There are possible health benefits of sunlight in addition to its effect on vitamin D, with seasonal variation in blood pressure shown to be independent of vitamin D [2].  Yet even in the summer the elderly may not find it warm enough to expose much more than hands and face if they do go outside. An additional vulnerable group are teenagers. They spend most of the school day inside and may not venture outside much at the weekend. This is a key time when peak bone mass is built up.

Normal glass prevents transmission of UVB rays so that vitamin D cannot be synthesised sitting by a window, although longer wavelength UVA rays may pass through. It has been suggested that this might worsen vitamin D deficiency. There is a manufacturer that makes glass where UVB light can pass through. My proposal is to explore whether a glass covered area (conservatory or room with large window) benefits vitamin D status and whether there are additional health benefits to a similar room which allows visible light through but not UVB, so that the ‘vitamin D’ and ‘light-only’ effects can be separated. We would need to consider room design as there may be differences in heat which should be standardized. An additional comparison would include oral vitamin D supplementation.

Macdonald HM, Mavroeidi A, Fraser WD, Darling AL, Black AJ, et al. (2011) Sunlight and dietary contributions to the seasonal vitamin D status of cohorts of healthy postmenopausal women living at northerly latitudes: a major cause for concern? Osteoporos Int 22: 2461-2472

Wood, AD, Secombes, KR, Thies F, Aucott L, Black AJ, Mavroeidi A, Simpson WG, Fraser WD, Reid DM, Macdonald, HM. Vitamin D3 supplementation does not explain seasonal variation in blood pressure and has no effect on cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopausal women at 57°N.  A double blind randomised placebo controlled trial. Submitted for publication.

Health in the North: Do High Latitudes Cause Disease Through Lack of Sunlight? Anthony Ormerod

Seasonal deficiency of vitamin D due to inadequate exposure to ultraviolet light is common in the North; essentially no vitamin D is made from October to the end of March. Many diseases are more common in Northerly latitudes – cardiovascular disease, several cancers, metabolic conditions and several autoimmune diseases (e.g., psoriasis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis). Our pilot studies in Aberdeen, 57˚ N, have shown that correction of vitamin D deficiency in winter by ultraviolet light (phototherapy) improves the regulation of immune function. Much current interest suggests that UV or dietary supplementation with vitamin D may improve health outcomes and reduce susceptibility to these diseases.

Our group, comprising Robert Barker, Carl Counsell, Helen Macdonald, Anthony Ormerod and Mark Vickers, is established and has the expertise, track record and interest to develop research into underlying mechanisms and strategies leading to or assessing interventions that will improve health in the north. We share a number of related ideas (epidemiological, mechanistic and interventional) that could be developed as part of the initiative “The North”.

Topics to consider include the following:

  • Immune effects of equivalent doses of UV light and vitamin D oral supplementation in vitamin D deficiency
  • Impact of UVA exposure on vitamin D status. (UVA exposure possibly exerts a negative effect)
  • Why is Multiple Sclerosis so common in the North of Scotland / islands:

This would need to involve several groups from CLSM (neurology, epidemiology, immunology, genetics, vitamin D) but also from outside CLSM as well (eg geographers, environmental and social scientists etc).  We would also probably need to find collaborators from other sites where MS is less common.

Table 4 - Resilience of Northern Coastal Communities to Rapid Climate Change: Karen Milek

Rapid climate change creates challenges for all societies, but in highly sensitive northern environments, where the speed and amplitude of climate change are especially high, the ecosystem changes associated with climate change may be particularly profound and may threaten the survival of human groups. Coastal communities dwelling at the interface between terrestrial and marine ecosystems experience the effects of climate change in particularly complex ways, the resilience of these communities depending on their ability to adjust their life-ways to the opportunities and challenges presented by long-term transformations in marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their resources. Today’s receding ice cover, for example, is opening up new possibilities for travel in and the economic exploitation of the North (e.g., fish, oil, gas and minerals), but this activity will in turn put an additional strain on fragile ecosystems and create management and governance challenges for local communities.

The proposed project aims to undertake a comparative investigation of the resilience of communities depending on the coastal ecosystems of the two great northern oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific. These regions are particularly well suited for a comparative analysis of climate change, ecosystem response, and cultural resilience, from intersecting archaeological, anthropological, historical and ecological perspectives. On the North Atlantic seaboard, early Holocene hunter-fisher-gatherers were replaced by agricultural societies that later colonised the North Atlantic islands, moving into cold coastal environments where agro-pastoral farming systems were at the climatic limits of viability. In contrast, large tracts of the North Pacific are inhabited by communities of hunter-fisher-gatherers that developed equally dynamic and flexible subsistence strategies without adopting farming. The villages and towns that developed on both of these coastlines have been responding in different and complex ways to the opportunities and challenges presented by dynamic marine and coastal environments.

Focusing on case studies that span definitive periods of rapid climate change, this project will examine the cultural and environmental records during these potential ‘tipping points’ in order to understand the local cultural responses to climate change in northern environments and associated coastal ecosystems. The case studies could potentially be drawn from any time period, from the earliest prehistory to the present day. The disciplines that are well-paced to make the fullest contributions to these case-studies include archaeology, anthropology, palaeoecology, marine biology, history, art history, literature and the performing arts, amongst others.

Ecological and Societal Consequences of Rapid Climate Change: Ursula Witte

Societies present and past have drawn on ecosystem goods and services for survival and development. These are underpinned by ecosystem functions and, ultimately, biodiversity. Rapid environmental change can result in modifications or collapse of services and/or habitat that communities rely on, and therefore create significant challenges for human societies.

In northern environments, the amplitude and speed of current climate change is particularly high. Sea ice is a central, characteristic feature of the Arctic ecosystem and the traditional way of life of its human inhabitants, and increased land run-off, receding ice cover and resulting increased influx of heat are active drivers of change. In addition, the receding ice cover opens up new possibilities for the use and exploitation of resources (hydrocarbons, transport, tourism) that will put further strain on fragile systems and create management and governance challenges for communities.

We propose to bring together expertise from science and the humanities (for example, but not limited to, anthropology, ecology, economics, art)  to study the ecological and societal impacts of  contemporary climate change, through study of changes in biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems, changes in ecosystem service delivery and their societal consequences, and human response and management options.  The overarching goal of the project will be to predict socio-ecological consequences of rapid climate change.

In collaboration with a team of cinematographers, we also propose to produce a documentary, illustrating how researchers work with and amongst First Nation communities, deciphering the functioning of and changes in the Arctic environment. This will be made available both to TV stations in Europe and North America, but in particular also to the First Nation Communities inhabiting the Arctic themselves.

Reconstructing Climate Change and Human Response During the Little Ice Age in the North: Brice Rea

The Little Ice Age (LIA), ~1200-1900 AD,  is the most recent large-scale climate anomaly and is known to have been asynchronous with differing intensities across the northern hemisphere. Towards the end of the period there are instrumental climate records but proxies remain the main approach for reconstruction. These proxies are wide ranging and include aspects of palaeoecology (e.g. pollen, plant macrofossils, testate amoebae, tree rings), ice cores, glacier geometries, and written records (for example, the occurrence of extreme weather events such as freezing of the Baltic and the Thames, or reports regarding the extent of sea ice in the North Atlantic from whaling ships, crop failures etc.). These records come from both the terrestrial and marine environments and provide the opportunity to determine the changes in both with possible leads, lags and drivers. The fundamental implication being that a detailed study of the most recent climate anomaly in human history can serve as an ideal proxy for a better understanding of patterns and timings of future climate changes.

Additionally, the LIA had significant impact on peoples of the North including indigenous Arctic cultures and those incomers of NW European descent. The LIA played a likely role, for example, in the Medieval abandonment of Greenland by the Norse, the ~50% reduction in the population of Iceland, and the abandonment of marginal land and extensive famine in Scotland. Cooling associated with the LIA may also have had an impact on the inherited memory of indigenous peoples of the north, possibly skewing their view of current climate dynamics. The aim of this round table is to explore interest in themes centered around the LIA which by necessity are best served through a multi-disciplinary approach. The discussion can extend spatially beyond the circum-North Atlantic region and temporally backwards into the Medieval Warm Period.

Table 5 - Carbon Cycling in Arctic Soils: Microbial Life in the Frozen North: John Parnell and Stephen Bowden

In the permafrost terrain of high latitudes in the northern hemisphere, crusts of calcium carbonate precipitate out in the soil zone. Although ice-covered for most of the year, these crusts support microbial activity which contributes to carbon cycling in the polar terrestrial environment. Both carbonate and carbon drawdown occur. There is potential for interdisciplinary research on (i) Rates of carbon sequestration via carbonate precipitation; (ii) Insights into carbon and nitrogen cycling from stable isotope data; (iii) Integration of microbiology and geochemistry.

Biodiversity and Carbon Sequestration in Northern Ecosystems: Ecological, Economical and Social Drivers: David Johnson, Sarah Woodin, René van der Wal, Jo Smith

Ecosystems characteristic of ‘The North’ contain most of the world’s carbon and so they have a crucial role in mitigating the effects of global climate change. These ecosystems also contain unique biodiversity which is both of great intrinsic and cultural value and underpins the carbon storage “service” they provide. Yet we lack a clear understanding of relationships between biodiversity and carbon storage, and of how users and managers of the land can promote both in a win-win scenario. Clearly, the values placed on biodiversity and carbon storage are dependent on social, economic and ecological perspectives, and these must all be considered to enable meaningful policy recommendations to be developed.  In this project we aim to evaluate the ecological mechanisms underpinning the relationship between biodiversity and carbon storage, and the economic and social drivers that may enable key stake-holders to produce evidence-informed policy options for biodiversity management.

Table 6 - Translating Northern Cultures:  Lisa Collinson, Ralph O’Connor, Stefan Brink, Michael Gelting

The interdisciplinary project ‘Translating Northern Cultures’ will examine the ways in which cultural practices, values, aesthetics and artefacts have been (and continue to be) ‘translated’ throughout the British Isles (especially Scotland and Ireland), mainland Scandinavia, and Iceland. Participants will explore how common cultural materials are transformed in distinct but comparable ways by different Northern cultures; and how interaction between neighbouring Northern cultures has fostered the transformation of individual traditions and practices.

It will draw on existing research strengths within the University, particularly in the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, and the Departments of Celtic and History. It would also be extremely helpful to involve staff from the Departments of Archaeology and History of Art. For modern topics, input could potentially come from the Departments of English, Music, or Film and Visual Culture; from members of the existing University ‘Translating Cultures’ research group; or from the Elphinstone Institute.

This project will easily accommodate both methodologically traditional and innovative doctoral and postdoctoral work. There will be many opportunities for public engagement, and practice-as-research will also be possible for students and staff working with Creative Writing, Film, or Music.

Cultural Transformations in Northern Societies in the Post-Roman World:  Gordon Noble

Although living ‘beyond the edge of the Empire’, and characterised by distinct social structures, environments, ideological systems and religious beliefs, societies in Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, and the North Atlantic region were profoundly influenced by the Roman Empire and its medieval successors. Dramatic changes are recorded in northern European societies beginning in the first millennium AD, with the emergence of more centralized political entities, new economic practices, and transformations in religious practices, beliefs and daily life. This project will examine how these transformations took place and in what ways, charting how the societies of the North received and adapted new ideas, values, and practices from the great Empires to the south and, importantly, how these same societies transformed and adapted these ideas (and created their own) through reference to native traditions and the distinctive landscapes and environments of the north.

Table 7 - Space, Place and Pedagogy:  Local Contexts in a Globalised World.  Donald Gray and Laura Colucci-Gray

Current discourses in education tend to seek to standardise the experience of students from diverse geographical and cultural places so that they may compete in a global economy (Gruenewald, 2003). In contrast place-based pedagogies have appeared in recent years as a means to promote an educational experience that relates directly to the student’s personal understanding of the world. Yet such pedagogy is more than simply education in a locale or education outside the classroom. It is a pedagogy that needs to be critical and that must “identify and confront the ways that power works through places to limit the possibilities for human and non-human others” (Gruenewald, 2003). Hence,  place-based pedagogy sits at the heart of a renovated understanding of the position of the human subject as part of a living entanglement of living and non-living forms, process and product, materiality and culture.

This research will be aimed at exploring the nature and impact of place-based pedagogies using case-studies of current practice in a range of scattered Northern countries to explore the ways in which such pedagogies impact on individuals sense of self in the world and the diverse ways in which learning is perceived and acted upon through critical place based pedagogies.

Educational Responses to Diversity in Scattered Northern Communities:  Jenny Spratt

A common feature of northern countries is their thinly scattered communities, which become more remote in the most northerly reaches. This geographical spread of populations presents particular difficulties when attempting to deliver public services in an equitable manner, as economies of scale are not possible. In collaboration with the University of Lapland, Aberdeen University’s School of Education is developing  a research proposal to explore the ways in which teachers in small rural communities in the most northern areas of Finland, Scotland, Canada and Sweden understand and respond to the diversity of pupils. Contemporary approaches to educational inclusion promote collaborative professional partnerships to support the wide ranging-difficulties in learning faced by children. This project will explore how teachers working alone or in small communities develop their ways of professional working, when unable to access the networks of support available in larger settlements.

Connecting Northern Communities through Languages, Identities and ‘Learnings’: Do Coyle

The research proposal seeks to investigate how historical events impact on the way  distributed northern communities perceive, engage in and relate to 21st century learning in the broadest sense. It seeks to plot key historical and cultural movements whose legacy permeates the interpretation of curricula focusing on the role of languages and identities, starting from current yet shifting practices in formal and informal schooling and tracing them back through time. Historical evidence will inform our understanding of how learning is acted out in contemporary multicultural and multilingual contexts across a range of northern rural, isolated communities.  The work will investigate how rapidly shifting socio-cultural and economic factors when fused with traditional heritage languages and cultures,  transient and migrating social units and current socio-economic demands, lead to changing identities and new ‘learnings’.  Trans-disciplinary perspectives from education, language and linguistics, social sciences, history and anthropology will enable ‘northern interpretations’ of socio-cultural theories of learning so as to connect distinctive communities in Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Estonia and Scandinavia and throw light on why young people from these communities are constrained by current learning contexts.

Table 8 - Networks of Knowledge in Northern Europe. Jenny Downes, Karin Friedrich

The project proposal would explore intellectual networks in the North Sea/ Baltic region from the Renaissance to the late Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment, investigating the transmission of knowledge about the natural world (including mathematics, astronomy, geography, natural philosophy and medicine) through the correspondence and travels of learned individuals. It would focus on connections between Scotland and Northern Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and Russia.

Correspondence networks – the movement of letters, people, things and ideas – are central to the intellectual developments of this period, but the academic links between Scotland and its North Sea and Baltic neighbours are underexplored. Tracing these contacts reveals the communication of natural knowledge and also, in the age of a growing sense of national identity, the representation and self-representation of these areas as ‘Northern’ or ‘peripheral’ in Europe. The scholarly and popular description and knowledge of far-flung geographical areas, such as Sarmatia or the Scottish Highlands for example, changed considerably in the period from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.  

Northern Colonial Histories: Alison Brown and Nancy Wachowich

This round table will be oriented to putting together a proposal on the broad theme of Northern Colonial Histories.  Sub-themes could include: the history of science in the North, mercantilism, missionary work, the representation of northern peoples and landscapes in film, photographs and through artefacts. We are interpreting colonialism in its broadest sense, looking at culture contact from the seventeenth century onwards, and we are interested in both sides of the colonial encounter. 

The proposed interdisciplinary research theme is informed by a recent AHRC-funded project undertaken in the Department of Anthropology entitled Material Histories: Social relationships between Scots and Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Fur-Trade, c1870-1930.  We hope to involve colleagues from across the University in supervisory teams.

Secularisation and Religious Transformation in the North: Russell Re Manning

The countries of the North are considered amongst the most “secularised” in the world. Yet, at the same time, religion is clearly central to the cultural definition of the North – from the indigenous pagan traditions to the various “established” Christian denominations and the more recent arrival of non-Christian religions, as well as the rise of new alternative nature-focused spiritualities. This distinctive, complex and profoundly ambivalent religious situation of the North represents a significant opportunity for an inter-disciplinary collaborative research programme, drawing on Aberdeen’s existing strengths across the humanities and social sciences, including, theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, politics, law, and religious studies.

This research cluster will adopt an interdisciplinary focus on the topical and highly contested theme of secularisation and religious transformation in the North.

Potential strands include the following research topics:

• The secularisation thesis and the North
• Secularisation and “established” Christianity in the North
• De-Christianisation and immigrant religions in the North
• Secularisation, law and politics in the North
• Secularisation and religious education in the North
• Post-secular religion and theology in the North
• Philosophy of Religion in the North
• New religious movements and environmental consciousness in the North
• Religious transformations in Northern indigenous communities

The central animating research question is the adequacy of competing theories of secularisation and the anticipation that an interdisciplinary study of the North will suggest an alternative understanding of the intersection of traditional social and cultural norms, modernisation, emergent spiritualities, and patterns of immigration.

Table 9 - SERG (Sound Emporium Research Group) - Three Cities Project: Peter Stollery

The project involves research, contribution and participation involving communities from the three cities of Aberdeen, Bergen and St Petersburg. The main aim is for participants to learn about and engage with audio culture from each city through engagement with sound recordings of the three locations. Using Edward Casey's three distinctions of “place at,” “place of,” and “place for” alongside Kim's three Engagements with Place as a key driver for recreative activity, the project team will:

  • create an intermedia installation, including video and audio recorded in all three cities which will be the central focus of the project
  • undertake composition workshops in all three cities, facilitating the engagement with place through sound for workshop participants
  • create a variety of interventions, sound installations and pieces by all composers and participants involved with the project

SERG is interested in working with colleagues in other disciplines who feel they might be able to contribute to this project or who feel that SERG might be able to contribute to a project they might be working on or in the process of setting up.

National Library of Scotland Song Index Project: David Smith, Almut Boehme

This project involves the conversion of a card index of the library’s extensive song collections into an online format accessible to scholars and the general public. 

The publication details of song collections are included in library catalogues, but not the individual items contained within them.  A card index compiled by generations of music librarians over a period of years contains a significant amount of information, but until its full conversion into an online environment it remains a resource inaccessible to scholars and members of the public unable to make a trip to Edinburgh to visit the library in person.  A pilot project has begun the process of conversion, and is available at http://www.nls.uk/collections/music/songindex/index.cfm; this included an investigation of new approaches to music information retrieval.

We would like to extend and continue this work, especially since in Aberdeen we have a recent staff appointment in Computational Musicology and have established a relationship between Music and Computing Science.  The Song Index can take advantage of an ongoing mass digitisation project at NLS which includes antiquarian music collections. Over 200 volumes of music have been digitised so far with more to follow in the current financial year.

Our aim extends beyond the conversion of an existing resource to an online environment. The process itself provides fresh opportunities for an investigation of the songs – text and music – from many different viewpoints.  We wish to enhance the Song Index by engaging in inter-disciplinary research involving scholars working in a range of fields, including (but not limited to) history, literature, sociology, geography.

The Individual and the North: Expressing, Performing and Creating Cultural Tradition: Ian Russell

Every one of us is an individual, whether artists, creators, storytellers, musicians, singers, poets, craft-makers, healers, bloggers, IT buffs, communicators, curators, teachers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, academics, scientists. Nevertheless, we all work within community traditions that we draw on; we recreate the past in order to understand the present; and we reinterpret and innovate to build the future. This is our mark of individuality and builds our own and our group’s identity. In northern communities and environments it is the skill, adaptability, resourcefulness and creativity of the individual that makes the lasting impact, and the interaction between individual agency and tradition that provides the dynamics of culture in communities – be it tangible, intangible or technological cultural heritage. By observing and engaging in ethnographic fieldwork, we can gain a unique insight into the values, beliefs, aesthetics, preoccupations and ideologies of individuals that together form the human experience. Identifying and understanding the components that contribute to the transformative voices will help us shape the future in a rapidly changing physical and cultural environment.

Research and Innovation will also be located at or around table 9 to discuss further funding options.

 


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