Barbara Santi

Department: English
Discipline: Film Studies
Research Centre/Unit: Humanities, Penryn Cornwall

Project Summary

The provisional title of my PhD is: Representing local Cornish cultural identity: Community collaboration, archives and emerging documentary practices

The research interrogates how new insights into notions of regional cultural identity and localised sense of place can be revealed through a collaborative documentary filmmaking process with selected families from Padstow, Cornwall.  The research embraces an interdisciplinary, immersive approach and uses archives in novel ways to explore ideas around locality, cultural identity, sense of place, memory and collaborative filmmaking.  Issues relating to visual representations of small rural communities will be addressed through a practice-based line of enquiry.

In 2010 I started filming Padstow’s Obby Oss custom in Cornwall celebrated on May 1st.  Archive film and photography led me to trace key family names that are documented in connection with ‘May Day’ since at least the late 1800’s.  The families shared with me the changes affecting their town.  My interest broadened to research the juxtaposition between the contemporary issues facing this coastal community and how visual media tends to portray rurality.

In the microcosm of Padstow the global complexities facing rural communities are exemplified; the lack of jobs, the negative effects of second home ownership and the double-edged sword of tourism brings into question the importance of cultural identity and the relevance of tradition in our globalised society.  Studied through the history and the archives of its people, this research will highlight considerations relating to attachment to place, regional distinctiveness and belonging and will argue the case that emerging media plays a vital role in raising underrepresented people’s voices on a local and international platform.

The research will identity key photographic and film archive collections relating to Padstow and it's Obby Oss custom as well as exploring the tradition through the lens of the communities extensive visual archive which to date little has been discussed. 

Supervisory Team

First: Professor Nick Groom

Second: Dr. Joe Kember

Mentor: Dr Christopher Stokes


Wider Research Interests

Documentary practices, rurality, representation, storytelling, participation, boundaries of authorship/ownership in filmmaking.