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SIEF Offers International Summer School in Banffshire, Scotland, Summer 2018

Tuesday, October 31, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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The second International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) International Summer School, titled "Giving Voice? Facilitating Social and Community Resilience," will take place in Banffshire, Scotland during the week of June 22-29, 2018. The School will address community social resilience from two perspectives. First, it will explore how communities reinvent themselves and repurpose the past during and after radical socio-economic change, repairing old connections while creating and maintaining new ones. In this process, grass roots activists draw on tradition, history, and new and old ideas, to reconnect the threads that create cohesive subgroups and feed into an area’s cultural self-esteem, an essential element in building resilience and the social structures required to make a community work. Second, it will address how the folklorist/ethnologist can play a role in this project through sensitive, ethical partnership work, taking as given scholars' reflexive impact on the transaction. Inevitably, there will be both tensions and opportunities, but through slow ethnography, scholars can hope to achieve a balance that works for both parties.

Participants in the School will explore these ideas in seminars and discussions, some with community partners, looking at what works and what doesn’t, while also co-designing and doing real-time, partnership ethnographic work with the host community, enacting a collaboration that draws from these experiences. The focus will be on how communities and individuals negotiate past and present cultural needs through their evolving relationship with tradition and sometimes with ethnographers, too.

The School is run by the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, and held in the old fishing village of Portsoy on the Moray Coast, a community which has, over the last twenty years or so, virtually reinvented itself with a combination of social enterprise, community activism, collaborative work, widespread community buy-in, and academic involvement. Participants will therefore take part in work with academic experts and community members, people who have driven the agenda, the activities, and the remarkable social and economic results achieved in the village. Field trips within the Summer School will allow participants to explore a diversity of approaches to community and heritage found in the region.

Guest leaders include Robert Baron (New York State Council on the Arts), Elaine Lawless (University of Missouri), Donald Smith (Scottish Storytelling Centre), Chris Wright, Steve Byrne, and Mairi McFadyen (Local Voices), Gary West (University of Edinburgh), Roger Goodyear and Lorna Summers (Portsoy Community Enterprise), along with Frances Wilkins, Ian Russell, and Tom McKean (Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen).



The Summer School brings together diverse scholars and community members to help us approach the chosen theme from both sides. The School will begin with an orientation evening on June 22, followed by seven days of seminars, talks, discussion sessions, interviews, workshops, and site visits, foregrounding the multi-dimensional aspect of the fields and, in particular, the work of staff and students on the School. The week will finish with the opening concert of the Portsoy Boat Festival, and participants may opt to remain in the village for the weekend’s events (an optional festival package, payable separately, will be available).

The School is intended for current PhD students, though the judiciary committee may consider Master’s students at an advanced level or fledgling post-docs. Participants will work with community members and academics, and have opportunities to workshop and present their own work in diverse and open collaborative settings, as well as several open-to-the-public events.

The working language of the programme will be English. Participants can earn 6 ECTS points for the week.



Please apply by sending a short CV and an abstract (300–500 words) describing your own research project and how it relates to the issues outlined above.

Please send your applications by November 24, 2017 to Successful applicants will be notified by email no later than December 8.


Fees, Accommodations, and Travel

The registration fee for participants is 40€. Participants are expected to take part in the full duration of the Summer School. Accommodation (twin rooms) and most meals (details to be confirmed) will be provided. Unfortunately, it is not possible for SIEF to reimburse travel expenses, so please inquire at your university to apply for travel funding.



Please feel free to contact the Summer School Convener with specific questions about the programme or application:

Thomas A. McKean
SIEF International Summer School Convener
Director, Elphinstone Institute
President, Kommission für Volksdichtung
Convener, American Folklore Society British Folk Studies Section


Part-funded by the Elphinstone Institute and the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)

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