This thesis examines Highland Games in the Southern United States as an active performance of culture for Southern Scottish Americans. In order to understand Highland Games as a performance, they are also analyzed through Victor Turner’s understanding of a ritual, made up of powerful multivocal symbols and liminality. I used participant observation and interviews—formal and informal—to understand how Highland Games are a ritual performance that reflects the culture of Southern Scottish Americans. I analyzed this data by contrasting it with existing literature and analyzing it through the lens of theories by Gwen Kennedy Neville and Victor Turner. Existing analysis of Highland Games considers them a celebration of heritage. I argue that while Highland Games are, indeed, a celebration of heritage, here is more to the Games than just heritage celebration. Highland Games in the Southern United States provide meaning for Southern Scottish Americans, inform their identities, and reflect their culture in a powerful, meaningful way.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Appalachian Studies | Celtic Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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