David MCGILLIVRAY, University of the West of Scotland, United Kingdom
Severin GUILLARD, University Picardie Jules Verne, France
Festivals and events are important for communities across the world. They represent and reflect diversity, socially and culturally, and can provide a means for people from different backgrounds to inhabit safe shared spaces for collective experiences, episodically at least. There is a growing body of research focusing on the social value of festivals and events including work that emphasises the significance of place-based community festivities. Community-level festivals and events, especially in neighbourhoods with multicultural populations, can serve internal and external functions. Internally, these festivals and events can provide opportunities for people from diverse communities and cultures to encounter each other, participate in pleasurable activities, express their identity and engage in cultural practices in a safe space. However, place-based festivals can also exacerbate tensions within communities, highlighting persistent power imbalances, intolerances and inequalities. In this paper, we draw on a case study of a place-based community festival in Glasgow, Scotland that is openly anti-racist, celebrating the contribution migrants have made to the diversity, culture and rich history of the area. This festival seeks to celebrate multiculturalism, increase understanding of difference and challenge negative representations of the area. Drawing on in-situ observations from the 2019, 2020 (COVID-19 compliant) and 2021 editions, alongside interviews with key informants, we consider the festival’s relationship with its host community, alongside spatial and temporal dimensions and explore the interplay between festival and place in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Scotland. We conclude that the festival plays a significant role in challenging territorial stigma through a dual strategy of public displays of diversity (via the annual carnival) and careful staging of smaller events that recognise and respect cultural and spatial meanings.
Keywords: place-based festivals|territorial stigma|diversity|public space