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CELTIC-L  March 2008

CELTIC-L March 2008

Subject:

Re: More on Celtic A & B

From:

Gil Das <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Sat, 1 Mar 2008 01:26:35 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

I'm really sorry, I have to butt in here.

James:
>>Is not the use of DNA as a means of establishing one's 'Celtic-ness'
simply a reinvention of the kind of racist view of the Celts that was
promulgated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? ... It seems to me
that this idea suggests the sort of thinking that, at its logical extreme, 
produces racial and genocidal warfare. 
>>
>
Very nearly... Racism is the (negative) external _categorisation_ of others
through biological distinguishing features (including blood), involving
unequal situations of power. Once someone starts descriminating due to
arguments of racial 'purity' (i.e. you are not entitled to (do) whatever
because you do not have the correct 'blood', including DNA, nowadays), this
is racism, and may often lead to atrocities. Otherwise, such exclusivity
might be a factor of ethnicism (which may, but is not necessarily, be
determined by descenent, ), in which 'us' and 'them' are defined by varying
factors: which may or my not incorporate concepts of 'blood', but is usualy
(but not necessarily) determined by such cultural attributes such as
language, religion, customs, laws etc.. It /may/ also lead to harmful
behaviour, but doesn't always. Cultural identity is generally less excusive
- more often determined by concepts of cultural similarity than difference,
and not usually distinguished by descent or origin.

>Genetic Celtic-ness simply is. 

No - some may wish to incorporate DNA into what makes them celtic, but...

Celtic is a cultural and ethnic identity - socially conceived, and
maintained / developed through social interaction; it is fluid, and it's
boundaries are constantly in flux: its not a monolithic entity. This is not
to lessen the significance of this identity - it is very real, and I would
NEVER want to dismiss it - it exists. DNA may demonstrate descent from a
particular individual or kinship group, based within a specific geographical
region. But, identity is not carried in blood - we are not born knowing how
to 'be' Celtic (or English, or American etc.), in the same way we have the
capacity for speech etc. - it's 'passed on' through (usually early)
socialisation (as is language), not genes. There are sooo many ethnographic
and sociological studies that demonstrate this is how it works. 
   to reduce identity to blood minimises the richness of the varied cultures
subsumed within the 'celtic' umberella.

This is why people may accept or reject a particular identity. An e.g. is my
partner - born in Canada, to an English father and Indonesian Dutch Mother -
none of these potential identities are significant at the moment, but
there's a variety to choose from there. However, if early socialisation had
contained referents to one particular identity, this would likely be the
most salient (although would be open to rejection through reflection).
Another e.g. - I have welsh, irish, and scottish ancestors (as do perhaps
the majority of 'english' people): if i look into each culture, i see
similarities, but also many differences; the certain common denominator is
the celtic language - which should / could I 'choose'? i was brought up in
none of these cultures, so have i 'the right' to any? i _personally_ would
feel uncomfortable to claim to be of either welsh, irish, or scottish
descent - certainly not celtic (because i have not experienced living in any
of these cultures); but if i spoke gaelic or welsh, would this alter things?
(I /feel/ not) - but that's me. ethnic identity is situationally and
historically contingent - my opinion might be affected by different
circumstances. This is why/how Britons eschewed Roman culture and became
anglo-saxon, for instance (my own particular specialism, BTW!).

James:
>>But then what are we left with to determine modern 'Celticity'? In my
opinion language is the clearest mark of culture, ethnicity or what have
you. With each language comes a particular way of thinking that is difficult
to classify, but - it seems to me - manifests in that particular culture's
impact on history (here I suggest my disagreement with the idea that 'Caesar
and History' interrupted some sort of natural Celtic existence - perhaps a
further point of discussion?). I would be very interested in discussing how
to ascertain this elusive character of each language - my first impression
of Gaelic and Latin is that the former excels in systems of independent,
aesthetic association - leading to a culture of scholarship and poetry but
schismatic and violent politics - while the latter excels in conceptual
organization - leading to social unity and logistical achievement (empire
and architecture). 
>>

See above. Language /may/ be an attribute of cultural or ethnic identity
(and is a dominant trait of celticity), but it is not necessarily so
(sometimes religion, e.g. is more important). Neither does a language
necessarily embody 'a particular way of thinking' (but /may/ be inextricably
linked with a particular culture through socialisation). The mechanisms
through which this may occur make it very difficult to discursively extract
the 'elusive character'. If you're interested in these processes, then take
a look at Bourdieu's theory of practice and Giddens' structuration theory.
However, the above cultural associations of gaelic and latin demonstrate
that stereotypes /have/ become personified in /external/ categorisations of
language, which may not directly relate to internal self-identifications,
i.e. how celts saw / see themselves.

C:
>...You see, the Celts of continental Europe were thought to have vanished
but did not--they're still here, and it is proven by the DNA markers they
carry, and in the case of males with the Y-chromosome, it states a very
specific picture of those ancestors. ..[snipped a lot]

hmm...the seeds of exclusivity? what about the women who can't prove their
specific dna heritage - are they any less celtic? Would the modern
population of, for example, Ireland (or the Irish diaspora),  be included as
celts - if so, what about those who could only prove the settlement of their
descendant in Ireland from the 18th, or 13th centuries, for example, can
they not be celts in your scheme of things? How far must you go back? If you
believe in celtic migrations, what about those who might prove their
descendant's settlement of Ireland in mesolithic times - are they less
celtic? Or do you belive in the adoption of celtic culture by the aboriginal
population of ireland...if so, this is case in point of celticity as a
cultural construct, rather than biological entity. 

Cionaodh, I wish you well, and I am so happy to see someone embracing their
_culture_, but please consider the implications of such definitions of
celticity (or any identity). 

i apologise if I've not explained things well, and if the above socio-babble
is unintelligable - it's nearly 1.30 am, i'm tired and i've had wine (and
not yet chocolate). 

best wishes,

K

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