I'm actually the one who did that interview with Simon James. I'm glad you
found it of interest. Although Simon and I certainly don't agree on
everything, I don't believe he's an anti-Celtic Satan (not at heart,
anyway). For one thing, I think that one of the big problems is that the
publisher of Atlantic Celts wanted a little provocation on the back of the
book, and the blurb ended up being a bit inflammatory with remarks
suggesting that modern Celts were not legitimate. I think this really
misrepresented the arguments he was making about the construction of modern
Celtic ethnicities. To make matters worse, much of the controversy was
stirred up by the English press as devolution issues were taking center
James will admit himself that the Atlantic Celts was a much different
position than he had taken before in dealing with Celtic material, and that
he had rethought his views. So yes, it was a departure.
Although I'm not an archaeologist, I don't agree with his theories about the
relation between language and material culture, or for that matter ethnicity
and material culture. I do accept what he says about the construction of
*modern* Celtic identities, but that's really nothing new.
And have other scholars followed suit to write similar texts, or is he
>pretty much still alone in his theories?
In fact this 'debate' has been going on for quite sometime, both in terms of
archology and ethnicity. Malcolm Chapman in 1992 (and 1978) really kicked
up the dust, and excellent sparring contributions have been made by Patrick
Sims-Williams and Ruth and Vincent Megaw, to name only a few. I've put in
my .02 as well on occasion.
James and I had a friendly exchange in 2 editions of Folklore in 2000 (vol
111, nos.1&2) if anyone cares to look at it. One thing that struck me after
having spoken with both James and Malcolm Chapman (yes, he exists!!) is the
fact that neither of them have ever been invited into the exchange with
Celticists. There have been lots of published arguments and counter
arguments, but no real communication.
Central Florida Folklore Coordinator
Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
University of Central Florida
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