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The Voice of the PeopleHamish Henderson and Scottish Cultural Politics$
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Corey Gibson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748696574

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696574.001.0001

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The Revivalist and the Folklorist

The Revivalist and the Folklorist

(p.161) Chapter 5 The Revivalist and the Folklorist
The Voice of the People

Corey Gibson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter sets out Henderson’s conception of the folk tradition, and its manifestations in his work as a folk revivalist and as a folklore scholar. In collecting songs and redistributing them, Henderson analysed this tradition whilst also contributing to it. His work can therefore be approached as an interrogation of the limits of the individual’s own cultural ‘mediation’. This dynamic both liberated Henderson’s political imagination and plagued it with doubts over the manipulation and affectations of folk ‘voices’. Henderson’s own contributions to the field of folklore studies are placed in the context of on-going scholarly discourse, but also in relation to his own work as one who sought to operationalize a culture he was convinced belonged to the ages and was immune to interference. Federico García Lorca’s comments on the duende, and the vital folk culture of Scotland’s travelling people helped Henderson to glimpse the unbounded reach of the folk tradition and, consequently, the limited scope of the folklorist-revivalist. Through each of these chapters, Henderson’s struggle with the endless distance between himself – the poet, songwriter, folk revivalist, and folklorist – and the political and cultural lives of ‘the people’, is a constant feature.

Keywords:   Hamish Henderson, Folklore Studies, Folk Revivalism, Song Collection, Fieldwork, Ballads, Language, Federico García Lorca, Duende, Travelling People

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