I am an ethnologist, writer and cultural activist with a background in academic research and teaching. My PhD (2012) explored the aesthetics, poetics and transformative power of the traditional ballad in performance and practice; in 2013 I held a research fellowship at IASH (Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities) at the University of Edinburgh exploring the cultural vision of educationalist Patrick Geddes and the connections between ethnology and human ecology. I am currently a research associate at the Intercultural Research Centre (IRC) at Heriot-Watt University exploring a creative ethnological practice. I have experience of teaching, tutoring and lecturing in Scottish Studies, cultural politics, heritage, ethnology and the traditional creative arts in both higher education and non-formal contexts. Outwith academia I have contributed to the development of a number of creative projects and have worked with cultural and educational organisations, including TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), ethnological community enterprise Local Voices and, more recently, The Shieling Project, a social enterprise leading in heritage and sustainability education. I am also assistant director (voluntary) of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics.
In my activist work I have taken up the various roles of organiser, producer, animateur, host, speaker, facilitator, researcher, teacher, writer, performer, connector. My creative practice is underpinned by ethnological values: valuing human relationships and emotional connections; recognising the diversity of human experience, meaning and expression; an ethic of mutuality; recognising ecological connection to place. Ethnologists are interested in the culturally and ecologically specific ways in which structures of experience contribute to the lived meanings of expressive culture. Applied ethnology is the praxis-based side of research and speaks to the need for an activist orientation in our commitment to creative practice.