Putting it out there: on conference papers, open access, and the Grand Spanish Charity Bazaar

Those of you who follow me in my various electronic incarnations will know I don’t exactly keep a low electronic profile. You’ll find me more or less active on Twitter, Academia.edu, LinkedIn and on my own personal, departmental and (soon!) project websites, and I make an up-to-date online CV accessible via various portals. One of my motivations for keeping my electronic presence up to date is to make it easy for as many people as possible to find out about my research. In the last few months, I’ve been working with Warwick’s research archive, WRAP, to publish preprints of my journal articles wherever the publishers will let me – you’ll find the links to all my papers on my WRAP profile page, or the ones where preprints are available on my own publications webpage.

But just recently, as I was looking over my CV, I realised that there’s one area of my work that I haven’t really curated at all – conference papers. They’re listed on my CV, and a bit of judicious googling will probably turn up most of the conference websites (the ones that haven’t died or been taken over by spammers, at least), but I was a bit ashamed to see just how many conference papers I’ve given haven’t yet turned into a publication (there’s always time, right?!). Yes, research I spent weeks, months, and travel funds on, not to mention ideas that might be interesting or useful to others, are locked away in my Dropbox never to be seen again.

In part, my reluctance to do anything with all these papers has probably been down to my general approach to the genre, which is to see it as something both provisional (i.e. work in progress, or a forum for testing rather than proving ideas) and ephemeral (i.e. conveyed as much through my delivery as through the words on the page). I’ve always written my papers as a basis for a ‘live’ performance, which can make them look a bit thin on paper – but I can’t defend that as a reason to hide them away and forget about them. And so, in the spirit of open access and knowledge sharing (and also, let’s be honest, just a smidgeon of self-promotion), I have unleashed to the interwebs my most recent conference paper, delivered last week at ‘Contact and Connections,’ a Travel & Mobility Studies symposium at the University of Warwick Institute of Advanced Study. Since there are plenty more where this one came from, in time I might give a few more old friends their place in the sun… which sounds like a good summer project. If I wasn’t moving house. Hm.

1893-06_Blyth ticket_Northumberland ROSo, this paper. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know a bit about it already. It’s a brief history of the Grand Spanish Bazaar, a cultural form that flourished in church halls, assembly rooms and town halls up and down Britain between the mid-1880s and the First World War. Groups of ladies would get together, sometimes with the help of a private company like Carnegie Bazaar Decorators of Newcastle-on-Tyne or Womersleys of Leeds, and rig up their venue to resemble a ‘Spanish’ setting – if they went with Carnegie, it would be the Alhambra, if they chose Womersleys, they would get a village marketplace. Since most of the Bazaars were in aid of Methodist chapels and Anglican churches, it’s not really surprising that they tended to project a fairly anodyne, Romanticised vision of Spain’s Hispano-Arabic past rather than its bellicose and defiantly Catholic present. But there were exceptions…

Hooper, Kirsty (2013). ‘Moorish Splendour’ in the British Provinces: The Spanish Bazaar (1886-1906), from Dundee to Southampton. Paper presented at Contact and Connections Symposium, University of Warwick Institute of Advanced Study, 27 June 2013

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