Cultural Playing Field

Performing Englishness in New English Folk Music and Dance by Robin Simpson
January 22, 2010, 8:34 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Tuesday I was in Committee Room 15 in the House of Commons to attend the launch of a research report on ‘Performing Englishness in English Folk Arts’. This research, conducted by Dr Trish Winter from the University of Sunderland and Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps from the University of Sheffield, was being presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Folk Arts. The Chair of the All Party Group, John Battle MP, introduced the researchers to an audience of MPs, peers and representatives of the folk industry. The research looked at the contemporary resurgence of English folk music and dance in the context of the wider debate on English national identity. It concluded that English folk is a highly significant site for the negotiation of English identity but noted that folk arts hold a strong appeal for the far right and are therefore becoming politically contested. Recent suggestions that the British National Party has been trying to appropriate English folk music for the cause of English nationalism has led to the development of the massive ‘Folk Against Fascism’ movement. The researchers suggested that the ‘normalisation’ of English folk arts as part of a multicultural society that celebrates diversity could limit their availability for appropriation by the far right. It was a fascinating presentation and discussion: the report on ‘Performing Englishness in New English Folk Music and Dance’ is available online at:

Robin Simpson.


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