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CELTIC-L  October 1995

CELTIC-L October 1995

Subject:

Re: More fun with Celtic Identity

From:

Stiof240n MacAmhalgaidh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Tue, 24 Oct 1995 20:09:00 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (117 lines)

Patrick,
 
What can I say except "yes, yes, yes".
 
>       To begin with,look at who has set down the definitions of what it
>is to be a "Celt".Did they have any connection to this
>group?Hell,no.Celts or Irish,Scots,et.al.have always been defined from
>the outside,rarely from the group in question at all.Once corporate
>identity is attempted from *inside* any of these groups,it is branded as
>"nationalism",an attempt at "identity",or worse.Whether the terms which
>we use to identify ourselves necessarily please other people is simply
>IRRELEVANT.We'll define ourselves,thank you very much.
. . .
>Definition by anyone who doesn't belong to the group that is being
>defined is useless,and can lead to broken facial bones.In other
>words,the opinions of smug, arrogant  Canadians and others who
>condescendingly
>judge the identity of racial groups in the United States from the outside
>are not only misinformed,but wouldn't 'get it' anyway.
 
The Welsh word for "Welsh" means something like "the people" or
"compatriots" (Anyone care to put in an accurate translation here?).
Effectively, this means "us" as opposed to everyone else. This is similar to
the thinking that led the Greeks to refer to just about everyone other then
themselves as "barbarians", ie "them". These definitions are valid only from
the perspective of those who made them, but that's the purpose for which
they were made, so that's OK. If anyone else has a problem with this, that's
THEIR problem & makes no difference to the Welsh or Greeks.
 
For the term "Celt" it is true that the modern sense of the word was made up
a couple of centuries ago to refer to those Europeans associated with a
group of languages labelled "Celtic". THIS label was supplied because of the
identification of these languages with the nation(s) called Keltoi by the
Greeks. In the strict (ie Celtic League etc sense) "Celtic" refers to the
six nations where languages of this group were spoken in historical times -
Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Man & Cornwall. The label applies by
extension to the people of these nations and their customs, music, art,
literature etc etc etc. In a more relaxed sense it think it is fair to
include any people who identify with these nations & their cultures in a
significant way. How do you measure what constitutes significance here?? Ask
the people involved. This is the point we are making, yes? If you see
yourself as Celtic its usually for a good reason, or else you'd not be
bothered. If anyone has a problem with this, so what??
 
>       Another point: The mechanisms by which we reinforce our
>identity,the pride we have in it,and the ways we pass this on are not
>"..fictions..". . . . This sort of view fails to see the very real cultural
continuum of
>which we are a part.The "Celts" were not a 'snapshot' of a long-dead
>culture;rather,we are part of a continuing 'film' which is still evolving
>and adapting to the world around us.To view the classical Celts in
>isolation to their modern descendants is to miss the point:the film is
>still playing.
 
Indeed. And any disputes that arise as regards this along the lines of "they
were different to what you are now" can simply be smacked down by pointing
out that the modern English have a few dissimilarities to their predecessors
of 1000 years ago also. They use loads of nasty foreign Latin words in place
of good decent honest "John Bull's my best mate" Saxon ones to start with.
And as for the French . . . what have they got in common with the original
Franks they got their name from??? And Canada? How many Canadians can say
they have a real cultural continuum joining them to the Accadians they got
THEIR name from?? The fact that what WE see as Celtic now around us and
within us is different from what defined the Parisii, Tectosages, Belgae and
so on as Celtic shows not that we are wrong to use "Celt" & "Celtic" as we
do, but that Celticness is alive & growing just like all those other
cultures across the world. If it died, there would be no change. It changes
& is redefined BY US and FOR US continually. Attacks on it  and on the
people who identify with it are really a part of the great process of
cultural imperialism that assaulted our cultures over the centuries. The
strength of Celtic culture is that it has withstood the onslaught for so
long, absorbed so much, swerved & dodged & mixed & matched to stay alive. It
is a successful "organism" that has managed to deal with predators and new
environments and evolve to meet new challenges. It can take a few knocks
from idle minds.
 
>The assumption is made that Americans just don't get it,that all
>this identity stuff points towards a fundamental misunderstanding of
>what being a member of a Celtic race(yes,race) is.
 
Whoa, there hoss!!! Hang on though...
1) what the hell IS race?? 2) Original Celtic types in Europe were of
diverse appearance 3) We are talking about CULTURE & ETHNICITY, yes? These
are issues that can often be tied in a general sense to racial groups, but
generally tend to be subsets of them, or cross racial borders - are not many
Afro-Americans also a part of American culture? What about a Rumanian child
brought up by Irish adoptive parents? or a Vietnamese child? What about Phil
Lynott of Thin Lizzy? Can these not be Celtic despite being brought up in a
Celtic land? Surely they have more involvement in the Celtic world than and
American or Canadian or Australian of Celtic ancestry?? You said it
yourself:
 
>Simple migration does not erase CULTURAL memory,and that is
>exactly what we are dealing with.
 
ie Not race, but culture. We need precision and clarity. Our meaning of the
relevant terms have been smeared. To recover these and make a valuable
terminology that is strong enough to reverse the process of influence, to
move the Celtic view outwards to others and enhance their understanding of
what WE mean by British, Celt, Gaelic etc.
 
>    Lastly,we hold onto our heritage because it is ours and because we
>can.The same can not be said for those that came before us,and were
>punished for cultural expression.We do because we can,and because we
>are.We know this because it is a very real and cherished part of
>ourselves,that we share a common bond with other Celtic folks,and because
>we were raised that way,regardless of our address.
 
Yeah! yeah! yeah!!!!
 
speak back.
 
beannachtai/
 
Stiofa/n mac Amhalgaidh "MAQQI"
Aontacht Ceilteach

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