Academics Interest In Cornish Devolution & Culture Grows

Those pushing for recognition and support of Cornwall’s demands for devolution as part of wider European trends for independence have received a boost this week as the world renowned Royal Geographic Society with the Institute of British Geographers annual conference at the University of Exeter has agreed to run two sessions on The Contemporary Growth of Regional Identity in Europe with Cornwall’s situation at the heart of the sessions. The conference will run from 1st – 4th September 2015.

The latter half of 2014 saw a resurgence in demands for independence and devolution within Europe. Scotland has held an independence vote, with regions such as Catalonia and Venice holding non-legally binding polls which have resulted in decisive outcomes for pro-independence supporters. Into this mix comes the likes of Brittany and Cornwall, with decade long demands for a Cornish Assembly, and a 50,000 signature petition handed into Downing Street. This session aims to examine the contemporary trends towards independence in Europe, through critically examining the local political situation in these regions and the consequences for wider national cohesion as a result of demands for independence or devolution, as these regions look to finally shake off what Hechter has termed ‘internal colonialism’.

The first of the session will focus on papers discussing the present trends, with the second being an examination of the associated cultural identity of European regions, as this plays such a major part in establishing their unique sense of place and ‘difference’. For the second session, we would welcome the performance of drama, art, music or other forms of creative art in the indigenous language of these European regions.

As the convener of these sessions, I am determined for there to be a strong representation on the situation in Cornwall – both in terms of the presentation of academic papers and in the performance session, where I am very keen for there to be indigenous Cornish music, poetry and arts. I would also like to hear from our Celtic cousins in Brittany as it would be marvellous to incorporate their situation and indigenous creative arts as well.

I will be posting a formal call for papers on this blog by the middle of the coming week, but please feel free to contact me before then at ben.gilby.2014@live.rhul.ac.uk if you are interested in participating. You do not have to have any affiliation with a university whatsoever to present or perform – it would be brilliant to hear from indigenous cultural groups. This is a brilliant opportunity for the wider academic community to be exposed to the political demands in Cornwall and to the fantastic indigenous culture that the territory has!

Before September, the Annual Conference of the Association of Celtic Students will be held at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter on the weekend of 21st March. There is plenty of interest for those involved in the fields of Cornish culture and identity as well, news of which will appear on this blog in the near future. As we begin 2015 it is heartening to see the academic community show an increasing awareness in the political and cultural situation in Cornwall.

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