Wednesday, 7 April 2010

An Update: Morris Dancing, X-Factor, the BNP and English National Pride

A short article in the Spring issue of Soundsense's Sounding Board magazine, Folk music 'hijacked' by BNP, bought me back to some of the issues I addressed in my Morris Dancing post. The article discusses Trish Winter and Simon Keegan-Phipps, of Sunderland and Sheffield Universities, research project entitled Performing Englishness in New English Folk Music and Dance and mentions the 'folk world's strong and distancing response to right wing politics [...] supported by almost every big name on the folk scene', centred round the organisation Folk Against Fascism.

Winter and Keegan-Phipps' closing report makes interesting reading, especially their reasons for the resurgence in English folk traditions regarding immigration:

[I]t is felt by many within the English folk culture that the cultural traditions of other ethnic groups in England command greater respect – particularly from key policy makers and funding agencies – than that afforded the English folk arts (p.17)

Sadly, it's all too easy for far-right organisations to twist the desire for English folk traditions to be recognised as equally worthy of respect as other (immigrant) cultural practices to their own ends, which we have seen with the likes of Nick Griffin declaring his appreciation for Eliza Carthy.