PhD Project

Working Title: Distant Cousins: Music, Identity and Community in the Cornish Diaspora

This ethnomusicological study concerns musical constructions of identity and community, the musical articulation of transnational identity, and musical dialogues between diasporic communities and their points of origin. Specifically, I am examining how Cornish migrants across the world musically articulated identity and community. During the 19th and early 20th centuries thousands of Cornish families left Cornwall to work in the British colonies, resulting in the establishment of ‘little Cornwalls’ in America, Africa and Australasia in addition to elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Existing scholarship has shown that these ‘little Cornwalls’ retained many cultural characteristics and practices from home. Through examining musics of Cornish migrant communities my project aims to document music found in the Cornish diaspora in the past and the present, and to assess the significance of music for identity and community formation in the Cornish diaspora.

My project will involve historical ethnography, drawing on archival sources and musical manuscripts. With regard to contemporary aspects of my study, my fieldwork will involve interviews with tradition bearers and participant observation with music specialists, alongside recording performances and documenting spectacles to ascertain the sonic and visual expression of diasporica Cornish identities.

I am based at Cardiff University’s School of Music with co-supervision at the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter. My project is supported by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.

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