TRACS Chair Receives Scottish Ethnology Appointment

Professor Gary West, Chair of TRACS, has also been appointed Chair in Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh.

The appointment began in August 2015 and Gary has spent his entire career to date at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1988 with MA (Hons) in Scottish Ethnology and Scottish Historical Studies, being appointed as a Lecturer in Scottish Ethnology in 1994, and gaining his PhD in 1999.

The question on most people’s lips is what is ethnology? The term has been around for a couple of centuries, but its precise meaning is rather lucid through various opinions. It has been variously described as the study of the everyday, of the past in the present, of people and their culture, of tradition as the marriage of folklore and folk life, or the point where history and anthropology meet. In his new role, Gary will be an ambassador for ethnological advances, encouraging Scot home and abroad, and other nations who are interested, to explore culture from an ethnological perspective as he states:

“I am honoured and delighted to have been appointed Chair of Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh. The School of Scottish Studies and its archives have been part of my daily life for over thirty years, and I have had the good fortune there to learn from more than a dozen of the great folklore and ethnology scholars of the 20th century.

Their mission was not only to collect and study our culture and tradition, but to add to it, and that indeed is the road I hope to travel in this new role.  The traditional arts in Scotland are growing and glowing, yet there is so much yet to do, so much yet to achieve, so much yet to understand. Ethnology can – and must – play its part.”

Gary’s involvement has been and continues to be substantial within the traditional arts, thus his involvement in many key organisations. He served for five years on the board of Creative Scotland, serves on the National Council of the Saltire Society and is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, as well as being the Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre, based within Celtic and Scottish Studies in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and Chair of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), as seen above launching the Scottish International Storytelling Festival for TRACS.

Donald Smith of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) comments:

“The award of a Personal Chair to Gary West is great recognition for the way he has been an ambassador for Scotland’s traditional arts. TRACS is honoured to have Gary as our Chair and to see Scottish culture strengthened in our universities by his new appointment.”

For a taste of Gary West in action, don’t miss the Scottish International Storytelling Festival’s annual Alan Bruford Lecture, supported by the School of Scottish Studies Archives, which is given in honour of the late Alan Bruford who was a distinguished archivist.

Entitled Jock meets the Jocks: Personal Narratives of the Great War, As Collected by Jock Duncan, Gary West shares and discusses a unique corpus of personal tales and memories of the Great War, as collected over many decades by the great Scottish traditional singer, Jock Duncan. Join Gary on Tuesday 27 October at 6.30pm at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.