On Fri, 29 Feb 2008 22:41:34 -0600, Kenneth Smith <[log in to unmask]>
>I am the last to state, and have not in fact stated, that
>Celtic-ness is defined by one's DNA.
>Genetic Celtic-ness simply is
>It's an indicator among existing people of their ancestry, which
>IS Celtic, even if their culture and self-consciousness is
>something else again.
so 'Celtic' is shared blood, which you associate with linguistics (although
there's evidence to demonstrate that two are not alway integral). But, as
you imply it's not merely a linguistic label - it's cultural.
'celtic' was an ethnographic label and self-identifier (for a small few,
that we _know_ of) in the pre-Roman and Roman era. subsequently, it was
revived as such: it's now seen in cultural terms, as a self-defining
identification and external categorisation (i.e. it's all about identity).
it is used in academic circles to define language in the present, and art
styles in the past (very strange when it comes to so-called early medieval
'celtic' art). i'm obliged, due to the academic economy, to employ popular
terminology and run courses entitled 'dark age celtic britain' (but explain
in the first lesson that i'm using it in the linguistic sense, as there is
absolutely no evidence that the people of western britain saw themselves as
celtic), as are many authors in writing histories of 'celtic' regions.
dna locates a person's genetic origins in a particular place, at a
particular time - without the evidence that those people in the past saw
themselves as celtic, we are doing them an injustice in calling them so
(when the evidence points towards other identities being much more important
it /seems/ that 'celtic dna' is often used in attempts to establish shared
historical experiences. and, ancestors /may/ have shared many experiences
with other people with similar dna, in the same location, at the same time.
but they may not - we can't make assumptions, but must consider the written
and archaeological sources, with as full a knowledge of the societies as
>But that's about all I plan to say on the matter. If you people
>want to insist that the only Celts are those speaking a Celtic
>language, so be it. Far be it for me to upset a list's consensus.
what do you mean by this - not of the same genetic descent (as i've not been
tested, i may or may not be)? or because I'm an academic really worried
about how such associations between blood and identity can be very damaging,
and wanting to give people in the past respect by telling 'their' histories,
and not imposing upon them our own ideologies?
i'm certainly not saying that, for all those people who consider themselves
as celtic nowadays, language is the only defining factor - far from it (if
language were the only factor, it would be a weak identity - which we know
it isn't: anyone can learn a language, if they choose). the wide range of
_cultural_ traits that might define identity is aptly demonstrated by
reading what several have said (i'm thinking in particular about fhiona's
family customs, e.g.). to those belonging to a group, identity is defined by
'correct' behaviour, more than anything - often subtle and indefinable.
anyway, i've probably misunderstood you, caionneach - and apologies if so.
the last thing i wish to do is offend - this discussion was intended as
healthy debate. and i wish to learn about other's experiences of identity -
this way i can be more sensitive in my own research.
i wish i liked guiness... i prefer mead ; )
all the best,
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