A taste of Scotland?: representing and contesting Scottishness in expressive culture about haggis

Fraser, Joy (2011) A taste of Scotland?: representing and contesting Scottishness in expressive culture about haggis. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the corpus of expressive cultural materials that have developed, over the past two and a half centuries, around haggis as a symbol and stereotype of Scottish ethnicity. Interpreting the dish as a key site of "the contention that is Scotland" (McCracken-Flesher 2002), I argue that these diverse cultural texts and traditions encode multiple and often competing representations of Scottishness as created and disseminated by both in- and outsiders. The thesis explores three strands within the expressive culture surrounding the dish. Firstly, it traces the emergence of haggis as a culinary stereotype of Scottishness within eighteenth-century English cultural discourse, as part of the caricature of the "beggarly Scot." The exoteric construction of haggis as distinctively Scottish is contextualised as part of a much wider cultural phenomenon, whereby derogatory representations of their food and eating habits were used to stigmatise the Scots as England's closest ethnic Other. The evolution of such stereotypes reflects the complex tensions inherent in Anglo-Scottish relations throughout this period. Secondly, I consider the motif of the grotesque body as a prominent theme within expressive cultural portrayals of haggis. Two distinct but interrelated manifestations of this theme are identified and discussed: 1) a preoccupation with the dish's physiological effects on the bodies of its consumers; and 2) the frequent figuration of haggis itself as a grotesque body. I argue that in these depictions the dish acts as a culinary metaphor for the Scottish body politic, embodying competing conceptualisations of Scottishness as represented from esoteric and exoteric perspectives. Thirdly, I analyse the dish's status as a contested symbol of Scottish identity among Scots themselves. I examine its role within the symbolic iconography by which Scotland has traditionally represented itself to the outside world, and its subsequent entanglement in debates concerning the authenticity and cultural legitimacy of such representations. These issues are further explored through a case study of the ritual that sun-OlInds the dish in the context of the annual Burns Supper and other public celebrations of Scottishness.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/12245
Item ID: 12245
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-246).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: October 2011
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Scotland
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Haggis--Scotland--Psychological aspects; Haggis--Scotland--Folklore; National characteristics; Group identity--Scotland; Scotland--Social life and customs

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