Not All Singing and Dancing: Padstow, Folk Festivals and Belonging

Cornish, Helen. 2016. Not All Singing and Dancing: Padstow, Folk Festivals and Belonging. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 81(4), pp. 631-647. ISSN 0014-1844 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

It is well established that while folk festivals appear to illustrate an ancient, bucolic past, they are contemporary markers of history and belonging. Cornish folk festivals can provide a valuable illustration of this. The Padstow May Day celebration, the Obby Oss, epitomises this sense of timelessness and spontaneous celebration. It attracts numerous tourists keen to join the spectacle of dancing and singing, and is seen by the Cornish tourist industry as the stellar event of the festival year. In contrast, Padstow's mid-winter Mummers celebration is downplayed by county officials. This event sees participants dance, drum and sing around the town, wearing black face-paint, with a repertoire that includes Minstrel ditties, while critical questions have been asked at regional and national levels. Both raise questions about the ways in which belonging is negotiated as a critical element in the Cornish festival landscape.

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Padstow, British festivals, folklore, localism, historicity

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6 February 2015Published Online

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Date Deposited:

22 Jun 2015 08:41

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2021 12:56

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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