Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Gary West

Personal Chair in Scottish Ethnology

Profile photo

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Examples of previous themes supervised include:


‘Exploring New World Perspectives on “Style” and “Authenticity” in Gaelic Dance-Music of the 21st Century’
'Survival and Revival in the Lowland and Border Bagpipe Tradition'
'The Piping Tradition of Ontario, Canada'.
'Ethnology and National Identity'
'The Contemporary Role of the Kilt and Tartan in the Construction and Expression of Scottish American Identity'.
'Scottish Competition Bagpipe Performance: Sound, Mode and Aesthetics’
'An Ethnological Approach to Landscape and Identity'
'A Highland Estate: Continuity, Change and Identity'
'Negotiating the City: oral and visual narrative perspectives'. 'Ethnological Perspectives on Oral and Visual Narrative'
'Women's Wartime History in the Scottish Italian Community'
'The Pipe Band: Origins and Development'

Education / Academic qualification

Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
Farm, Family and Neighbourhood in Post-Improvement Perthshire: an Historical Ethnography

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseScottish traditional music; Oral history training; Heritage; Intangible Cultural Heritage; Ethnology; Piping

Biography

Gary West was born and brought up in Highland Perthshire, attending Pitlochry High School and Breadalbane Academy, before moving to Edinburgh at the age of 18. He was the first person to graduate from the University of Edinburgh in the newly launched degree entitled Scottish Ethnology and Scottish Historical Studies, in 1988. Following a brief and ill-judged period as a banker, he returned to the School of Scottish Studies to undertake a PhD, and was later appointed to the staff there as a lecturer in 1994.

From the age of 7 he has been highly active within the field of traditional music, learning his trade with the innovative Vale of Atholl Pipe Band with whom he won both the Scottish and European Championships. On settling in Edinburgh he moved sideways into the folk music scene, joining the band Ceolbeg in 1988, and the so-called ‘Scottish folk supergroup’, Clan Alba, in 1993. In more recent years he has played and recorded with a variety of musicians, and has toured widely in Europe and North America. Since 2002 he has presented the weekly specialist programme on BBC Radio Scotland, Pipeline.

His research interests centre around the general theme of the use of the past within the present, and include traditional music, heritage, revivalism, oral history and the conceptualisation of tradition. A good deal of his research is practice and performance based and this is reflected in a varied portfolio of output forms. 

Teaching

Administrative Roles

2004-06 – Undergraduate Director, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

2006-08 – Senior Director of Studies, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

2006-08 - Academic Misconduct Officer, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

2006-12 - Member of Planning and Resources Committee, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

2007-2010 -  Member, University Undergraduate Studies Committee

2007-10 - Member, College of Humanities and Social Science Undergraduate Studies Committee

2006- present – Member, University Undergraduate Appeals Committee

2009- 2012 – Head of Celtic and Scottish Studies

2011 – present - Director, European Ethnological Research Centre, University of Edinburgh

Highlighted research outputs

  1. Voicing Scotland: Folk, Culture, Nation

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  2. Lands and Lyrics: the Dynamics of Music and Song in Rural Society

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Scottish Military Music

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  4. Pibroch: The Company's Lament

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

  5. Flooers o the Forest: Songs and Music of Flodden

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

  6. Hinterlands

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

  7. The Islay Ball

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

  8. Sir Walter Scott

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

  9. Hamish Henderson and the Piping Tradition of the North-East

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  10. Oral Testimony

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  11. Piping and the Folk Revival

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  12. The Jedburgh Ba Game

    Research output: Non-textual formComposition

  13. Ethnology and Heritage

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

View all (61) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Peer Reviewer

    Activity: External academic engagementMembership of peer review panel or committee

  2. Review of Scottish Culture

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsEditorial activity

  3. The Dr Alan Bruford Memorial Lecture

    Activity: External academic engagementInvited talk

View all (56) »

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