Locating Identity and Ethnicity in Cornish Civil Society: Penzance, a Case Study
Harris, Richard John Pascoe
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The material in this thesis is published under Creative Commons licence CC BY
Reason for embargo
To enable academic papers to be published during the following eighteen months. Please note, access to the full text of the thesis has been permanently restricted to comply with copyright law.
Recently there has been considerable interest in Cornish ethnicity reflected both by a rise in the numbers in Cornwall who identify as Cornish and by academic research. Cornish studies have constructed a regional narrative embracing Celticity and an economy based on primary industries, particularly mining, from which has evolved a distinctive culture. This study adopting an ethnographic approach, extends Cornish studies by considering a number of elements which have not previously been addressed. These include investigating how identity may be played out in a particular place to see whether there may be differences in how ethnicity is performed within Cornwall, looking at how it may be practiced collectively in the context of civil society and examining the relationship between ethnicity and place identity. Three settings within Penzance have been selected to represent some of the issues prevalent in twenty first century Cornwall. They include a study of festivals celebrating ethnicity and place identity, an investigation of how kinship and ethnicity are the basis for social cohesion on a social housing estate and an analysis of a dispute over harbour re-development reflecting tensions between regeneration and conservation. Investigating the civil society associated with each of these settings has identified a number of discourses which influence place images, are the focus for debate and reflect different ways in which ethnicity is articulated and performed. Influences on Cornish identity have been exposed which have not been previously explored by Cornish Studies including the relationship between civil society and the state, the importance of place mythology and the impact of inward migration. The study concludes that collective identities, ethnicity and place images are constantly in flux driven by discourses debated within the micro-politics of civil society and that the overarching narratives of Cornishness contain tensions and cleavages which help explain the fractured nature of much of public life in Cornwall.
The thesis consists of two volumes, the first being the main text and the second the appendices.
PhD in Cornish Studies