Transnational Communities through Global Tourism: Experiencing Celtic Culture through Music Practice on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
How are transnational communities experienced? What types of social interactions constitute transnational communities? Specifically, can a sense of transnational community be expressed and experienced through participation in cultural music performances? Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, is currently the heart of the North Atlantic Celtic music revival. Fueled by a booming tourism industry, efforts in cultural preservation, and claims as a last stronghold of Gaelic speakers outside Scotland, Cape Breton Island is an international gathering place for tourists and performers to encounter the larger community of Celtic musicians. This ethnography of a transnational music community explores the ways in which geographically disparate peoples encounter the transnational Celtic music community, learn what it means to belong, and through participation, become full members in the community. I argue that the transnational Celtic music community is best described as a community of practice, where members are active participants in the practices of social communities and constructing identities in relation to these communities. The role of international tourism, traditional arts schools, festivals, and interactive websites are examined through the lens of phenomenology and performance theory. Although primary research is based in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, field research extends to Scotland, Canada, and the United States, in order to examine the increasingly complex circulation of cultural meanings, objects, and identities of human inter-connectedness. Issues raised in this case study are cross-disciplinary in nature and can be applied broadly to research on globalization, international relations, and diasporic communities. More specifically, this research contributes directly to the field of ethnomusicology, folklore, performance theory, and tourism studies.
Thesis (PhD) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2008
transnational, communities of practice, celtic, music, cultural tourism, traditional arts schools
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Doctoral Dissertation