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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 16/09/2005

On holiday in Spain I´ve been pondering the subject of kitsch. Everywhere I look I see lots of tourist shops and they are all selling goods which have ´commodified´ aspects of Spanish culture such as bull-fighting and flamenço dancing and now sell this idea of Spain to tourists. Clearly some people are still involved in such activities but you can´t help feeling that the energy behind such activities has changed and is now more about entertaining tourists, and an attempt to keep alive an expression of Spanishness which has really little relation to modern Spain.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a session in the Festival of Politics in the Scottish Parliament. The pressure of my diary was such that I had to spend the night in a hotel close by and I ended up feeling like a tourist as I tramped the Royal Mile, perusing the various gift shops as I passed. Over the years cultural commentators have berated Scotland for its ´´tartantry´´. They find all the kilts, pipers, tartan etc offensive and embarrassing and a complete misrepresentation of modern Scotland. But in reality the tourist side of every country cashes in on national dress and past times even though they may be irrelevant to the modern, urbanised, industrialised culture which engages much of the population.

So as I sit in a cafe in Spain I can´t help feeling that Spain´s matadors are no different from our kilted pipers.

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