January 31, 2020

What can we learn from 1784 Scottish cultural politics?

Isla Ratcliff

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AudioA Reawakened Monument of Antiquity, 2019

My work explores Scottish cultural politics, of 1784 and of 2019. By combining music from A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (1784) with quotes from contemporary sources that reveal its cultural-political context, my work gives the listener an insight into the Scottish cultural politics of 1784. The cultural-political issues addressed in each of the six movements are 1) the effects of the Act of Union 1707 on Scottish culture; 2) the desire to preserve tradition; 3) cultural nationalism; 4) emigration; 5) cultural memory; and 6) hope for the future. These issues are prevalent again in 2019, when Scotland is at a cultural-political crossroads in the aftermath of the 2014 and 2016 referenda and in the lead-up to Brexit and potentially another independence referendum. I intend my work to provoke the listener to consider these cultural-political issues, as they apply to both 1784 Scotland and 2019 Scotland, since the way in which we approach these issues today will have a significant impact on our future. We can learn from our 1784 approach; yet at the same time we cannot be stuck in the past, as has been the trend in Scottish cultural politics since the Collection was published 235 years ago.