James M. Harland’s Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the Aduentus Saxonum, a monograph based on his 2017 PhD dissertation, presents a history and critique of the last half century’s writings by archaeologists on ethnic identity and migration in lowland Britain. As such, it is a welcome addition to the more fulsome scholarship on ideas related to ethnicity and migration developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Harland problematizes the bedrock of many theories about lowland Britain in the first two centuries of the Middle Ages, that “identity consists of stable categories, which can be identified in the historical and archaeological record through empirical observation” (22). He also offers a devastating critique of the conflation of race, ethnicity, and natural/essentialist foundations of group identity, and he investigates the “epistemological illusion” of cohesive ethnic structures (130). He also provides a cogent analysis of how these things feed into alt-right,...
Review: Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the Aduentus Saxonum: A Modern Framework and Its Problems, by James M. Harland
Robin Fleming; Review: Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the Aduentus Saxonum: A Modern Framework and Its Problems, by James M. Harland. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 February 2024; 8 (1): 129–130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2024.8.1.129
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