Speaker: Sophie Qiaoyun Peng (Glasgow University)
In this seminar, Sophie Qiaoyun Peng will present part of the findings from her PhD thesis on how lace serves its role in symbolising the distinctive local-ness in Shetland and Haapsalu landscapes. She will discuss two symbolic themes: (1) she will explain how lace functions as a recognisable element to outsiders for understanding local identity; (2) she will discuss the theme of “visibility” and how lace has been presented by local people as a crucial part of Shetland/Haapsalu cultural communication. Both themes use a cultural-semiotic lens to understand the place of lace in the Shetland and Haapsalu landscapes. However, Sophie distinguishes between the two via reflections on positionality. Recognisability is more about outsiders recognising lace (shape/concept, not necessarily the hand-knitted woolen fabric) in the landscape, or lace being displayed as a signifier for the signified local identity. While visibility is more about insiders making lace as part of the cultural landscape. The presentation is based on ethnographic data collected during Sophie’s PhD, including visual materials, field observation notes, and in-depth semi-structured interviews.
Sophie Qiaoyun Peng is a textile historian specialised in lace, knitting, cultural semiotics theory, and intangible cultural heritage in the Nordic-Baltic zone. In her PhD thesis (2023, CEES/History, University of Glasgow), she used qualitative ethnographic data together with archival materials to explore the meanings of hand-knitted woolen lace and its roles in constructing and shaping local identities in Shetland (Scotland) and Haapsalu (Estonia). Sophie Peng is now serving on the committee for The Nordic-Baltic Network on Intangible Cultural Heritage. She has previously held visiting PGR fellowships at the University of Helsinki (Aleksanteri Institute) and the University of Tartu (Ethnology).
IHR Seminar Series: People, Place and Community