'Our true intent is all for your delight': Placing materiality, mobility, atmosphere, and affect at Scotland's travelling fairgrounds

Lacsny, Elisabeth Alice (2020) 'Our true intent is all for your delight': Placing materiality, mobility, atmosphere, and affect at Scotland's travelling fairgrounds. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Travelling fairgrounds have toured Scotland since the late-eighteenth century. Today, the arrival of the fair remains a staple feature of annual civic festivities in towns across the country, from Ayr to Elgin and everywhere in between. The much-loved fairground experience is dependent on the manufacture and design of movable machinery that magically transforms into looping, spinning, whirling, and flashing objects. The traditional array of amusement rides, supporting stalls, and food concessions that go to make ‘all the fun of the fair’, are owned and transported by family firms, several of whom have a long history in the trade spanning multiple generations. These Showpeople have multiple geographies of their own, combining year-round communities and seasonal journeys according to a recognised calendar of fairs. Travelling between towns across Scotland enables Showpeople to share their craft, heritage, and history with thrill-seeking publics. Although recognised by Scotland’s former first minister as ‘an important part of Scotland’s culture, history, and economy’ (Salmond, 2009), Showpeople have long struggled to find recognition as a community. As such, it is important to examine the material and immaterial geographies of the fair, questioning how they impact awareness of Showpeople in contemporary Scottish society.
Shaped by oral histories and ethnographic experience, this thesis addresses the material and immaterial culture of Scotland’s travelling fairgrounds in terms of design, mobility, and artistry; engages with the production of fairs as spaces of affect and nostalgia; pre-theorises contemporary popular culture; and, critically considers the social constraints placed on travellers in contemporary Scotland. It reconfigures the fairground space and aims to challenge commonplace prejudices associated with the material and immaterial heritage of Scotland’s show-culture and Showpeople. Ultimately, this thesis presents a different representation of Scotland’s travelling fairgrounds, offering insights into the geographies at work in this space.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Showpeople, fairgrounds, materiality, affect, atmosphere.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Supervisor's Name: Lorimer, Professor H. and Parr, Professor H.
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Miss E A Lacsny
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81772
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 10:44
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2020 10:54
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81772

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