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PhD candidate sought for an exceptional folklore project


Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI and Tobar an Dualchais seek an exceptional PhD candidate, fluent in Gaelic and qualified to Masters level in a suitable discipline, to undertake their Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) Collaborative Doctoral Award funded PhD project, A Hebridean Folklore Macroscope: 170 years of Gaelic oral culture in the Outer Hebrides.

Supervised by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stewart and Prof. Hugh Cheape and the Director of Tobar an Dualchais Floraidh Forrest, the project will bring new ethnographical approaches and cutting-edge scholarship to bear upon the rich Gaelic oral heritage made available online by Tobar an Dualchais, Scotland’s digitised folklore and oral history resource.

SMO’s Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stewart welcomed the news saying:  “This PhD opportunity is wonderful news for anyone who cares for Gaelic tradition. It offers an exceptional opportunity for an able early-career scholar to get to know communities endowed with riches of folklore almost unequalled elsewhere in Europe. In researching the wide variety of songs, stories, and history preserved in Tobar an Dualchais, as well as 170 years of folklore recordings, the student will bring the islands’ precious heritage to the attention of scholars worldwide, as well as working with local communities themselves regarding the best ways to pass on this heritage alive and well to the younger generation.”

The successful candidate will analyse and unlock Tobar an Dualchais’ rich collection of Gaelic language folklore and song recordings from the Outer Hebrides, contextualising them within a corpus of orally-derived material from the same areas stretching over 170 years, from John Francis Campbell’s pioneering collection projects to the present day.

The project will investigate recordings from two contrasting but comparable localities: the island of Eriskay and the adjoining ‘mainland’ of the South End of South Uist, and the island of Berneray. Combining detailed case studies focusing upon individual items, genres, and informants and their genealogical connections, with wide-ranging, time-deep perspectives, the project will enable folklore to illustrate the islands’ history, cultural patterns and trends, and demographic and environmental contexts.

TAD Project Director Floraidh Forrest also commented:  “We’re extremely pleased to be partnering with SMO in the delivery of this funded PhD. The doctoral research undertaken will give deeper understanding and meaning to the massive collection of recordings, fieldwork and, significantly, the individual tradition-bearers and their families from Uist. It will also help the Project to better connect with the Uist community of today. We would encourage anyone suitably qualified and with a passion for this research to apply for the position. Opportunities like this certainly do not come up very often!”

The candidate will work closely with the communities where recordings were made and will contribute to Tobar an Dualchais’ programme of outreach and community engagement, through public talks; blogs; articles in local publications; and media appearances.

This PhD project offers an exceptional opportunity for a promising researcher to develop their academic skills in the rich Gaelic environment at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, while gaining valuable training and experience working with one of Scotland’s most important oral heritage resources and the communities it represents.  Applications must be in by 26/06/20 and for more information and guidance on the application process please see

Informal enquiries to Sabhal Mòr’s Head of Research, Abigail Burnyeat are very welcome: