Memory Work, Music Work, and the Transnational Performance of the Welsh National Eisteddfod

Authors: Mark Rhodes*, Michigan Technological University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Europe
Keywords: Wales, Festivals, Soundscape, National Identity, Memory Work
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Each year the National Eisteddfod alternates between North and South Wales in a ceremonial festival that both reaches back to pre-Roman Celtic origins and consistently redefines itself and what it means to be and perform Welsh. As a national institution, partly funded and overseen by the Welsh Government, the National Eisteddfod’s performances, competitions, and pavilions reflect much of Welsh memory and heritage through traditional poetry, dance, and music. Likewise, this space is central to the evolution of Welsh memory and Welsh music. The work of memory and music during the annual ten-day festival in 2018 experienced numerous structural changes from customary Eisteddfodau. Through musicals, folk music, carnivals, and other performances, music and memory in Cardiff Bay intersected with transatlantic identities, protest, and the deindustrialized urban setting. Using interviews and a transoptic landscape analysis, this paper explores the various musical and performative landscapes of the 2017 and 2018 National Eisteddfodau to better understand these emerging postcolonial, post-industrial, and performative landscapes in Wales.

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