Anna Louise Spencer BA Hons English Language and Literature, MA Community and Youth

Job Title:

PhD Research Student


The Creative Campus, Highlands and Islands



'Collective Showcase' Anna Louise Spencer
(image credit - North News and Pictures)

'Collective Showcase' Anna Louise Spencer


Anna Louise Spencer

The Fabric of the Community - how can design practices be used to better understand the role of storytelling to encourage the voice of local people in shaping identity and activism in the Highlands and Islands?

Supervisor: Dr Laura Gonzalez

There is a growing disconnection between the experiences portrayed by the powerful about local communities and the experiences lived by those who inhabit the places in question.

This practice-led research focuses on the role of storytelling as a method of sharing experience and understanding in the ‘gateway’ communities of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Design will be used as a lens to offer new perspectives on the importance of a strong local voice and identity in fostering home-grown activism which can offer a viable alternative to the narrative of dominant, external views.

Looking to the past traditions of oral history and the role of the bard in society, consideration will be given to contemporary articulations of this practice within groups who view community from its margins whether those be geographically or socially defined. This will include the collaborative development of an emergent language and vocabulary to better communicate the aspirations for the potential futures of the local community.

With a commitment to proximity, both physical and relational this research will explore the overlapping individual stories which form the fabric of the community and how universal values can be drawn from these specific experiences.
Based within an evolving methodology which values creativity, informality and participatory practice this research will be meaningfully engaged with its context and maintain a dialogue between the unique aspects of locality and new understanding which has a wider relevance.

This research is part of the Creative Campus cohort in the Highlands and Islands.