An ethnography of tourism and traditional Irish music in Doolin, Ireland
This thesis is an ethnographic study of the complex interplay between tourism and traditional Irish music based on fourteen months of fieldwork in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland between June 2002 and August 2003. The historical development of traditional Irish music and the localised tourist industry have become conjoined during the last three decades, and as a result the music and the idea of Doolin as a 'place' have become institutionalised and consolidated. This has further led to the development of a complex socioeconomic structure surrounding the music, its performance, and its commercialisation and consumption. The local social structure has also become complicated and internationalised. Specifically, the locale has seen a significant growth in the 'incomer' population, called 'blow-ins'. Blow-ins in this case have in fact become the inheritors and propagators of the local music scene, but this causes surprisingly little cognitive dissonance or tension between locals and incomers. This is despite the fact that the music is the raison d'etre of the local tourism industry. I propose that those incomers who successfully inherit and propagate the local music become assets to the cultural capital of the village, not a drain on it. Moreover, I suggest that the 'authenticity' of the music is not an ascribed quality but interdependently related to social status, seasonality, one’s relationship with the music, context, and phenomenologically inter subjective relations. By means of holistic anthropological research, this thesis attempts to refine our understanding of complex social relations in touristed destinations, the appropriation of musical 'traditions', and sharpen current anthropological theories surrounding the issues of 'authenticity' and globalisation.