Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Benita J. Howell

Committee Members

Faye Harrison, Michael C. Lofaro, Leslie C. Gay,J.


The focus of this research is the Celtic harp revival in the British Isles and how that revival relates to the political sentiments of its participants. Devolution and the possibility of outright independence from Great Britain are on the minds of contemporary Scottish citizens. In the context of music's historical association with Scottish political protest and the centrality of the harp to imagery of the Celtic past, this study examines the political sentiments of contemporary Scottish harpers. The study employs the concepts of internal colonialism, cultural hegemony, and transnationalism to explore the intersection of Celtic invented traditions, in particular, the world-wide Celtic music revival, with Scottish ethnicity, identity, and nationalism.

Harpers appear to be a distinct subculture of Scottish musicians. They are primarily female and are older than most of the other musicians in the Scottish folk scene. Usually, they are performing on the harp as either a hobby or as a second income in the family. The Scottish harpers also tend to have a higher socioeconomic status and tend to express more conservative political views than an opportunistic sample of the general Scottish population. They are cultural nationalists not political nationalists. Alison Kinnaird, widely considered to be the prime force behind the current revival of the Celtic harp, draws clear distinctions between the Scottish and Irish instruments and styles of playing. She disavows the romanticized notions of Celtic music and identity that she associates with musicians and others who claim membership in the transnational diaspora of Scots, or particularly, modern day Celts.

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