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Title: Faith, fear & folk narrative : belief & identity in Scottish fishing communities
Author: Brown, Fiona-Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 8293
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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This is a study of folklore in fishing communities using oral narrative as its major source, and analysing the evidence using the methodologies of both oral history and ethnology to illustrate the identity of the group studied. I am particularly concerned with the type of folklore which historian Leonard Primiano describes as ‘vernacular religion’, i.e. rituals and beliefs which demonstrate the religious, spiritual life ‘as lived’ rather than that which is prescribed by the church. The study encompasses fishing communities in the North-East of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and Shetland, which represent both the historic and contemporary centres of the Scottish fishing industry. It is my contention that we can learn a great deal about fisher identity — its substance and mechanism — through the study of personal narratives, the stories fishermen tell about themselves, their heritage, their environment and their skills. The major themes of this study are faith and fear, the former encompassing a range of strategies — some supernatural, some rational — which fishermen employ to cope with the latter. In building a picture of fisher identity, I also contextualise fishermen’s supernatural and spiritual beliefs within the larger community of those who operate at sea. In turn, I consider the factors which isolate fishermen from society at large, and those fishers have used to deliberately isolate themselves from the landward community, and even from other fishermen, often their economic rivals at sea. This study demonstrates that belief/faith, as it is lived, is a major facet of fisher identity in Scotland. Those beliefs and the working environment are what create, shape and define the fishers’ identities, both the larger, communal ‘macro’ identity and the smaller, individual ‘micro’ identity, separating them from those who work and live on the land. The expression of the fisher identity extended back into the past and forward into the future by the continual telling and retelling of personal narratives while their context exists: the sea.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Fishers ; Christianity and culture ; Ethnology ; Scotland