Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum
Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum
A Modern Framework and its Problems
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1 Introduction
Historical Approaches to the aduentus Saxonum
A Note on Terminology
The Structure of the Book
A Note on Contemporary Political Resonances

2 Ethnicity and Archaeology
Ethnicity: General Conception and Theorisation
Ethnic Theorisation and Archaeology
Ethnicity in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology
The Freiburg School

3 Empiricism and Metaphysics
Differential Ontology
Derridean Deconstruction
Deleuze, Guattari, and the Rhizome
Applying Differential Ontology
Earlier Applications of Differential Ontology to Archaeological Interpretation
Some Final Methodological Principles
Selecting and Approaching the Case Studies

4 Deconstructing Anglo-Saxon Archaeology
John Hines and Culture History
Catherine Hills: The Migration Debate
Sam Lucy: ‘Deconstructing’ Ethnicity?
Howard Williams: Remembering ‘Germans’ and ‘Ancestors’?
James Gerrard: Ethnicities or ‘Ideologies’?
Toby Martin: The Cruciform Brooch and ‘Anglian’ Identity

5 The Material Evidence Reconsidered
Critical Issues
A Summary of the Present Evidence Base and Problems with Its Use
‘Germanic’ Artwork? The Saxon Relief Style and Salin’s Style I
Searching for Ethnicity in ‘Folk’ Costume and Weapon Burials
Non-Empirical Uses of Data in Action

6 Building an Alternative
The Case Studies
Wider Implications from the Case Studies
The End of Roman Rule in Britain and the Transformation of the Roman World
‘Re-use’ of Roman Material

7 New Approaches and Final Reflections
New Approaches to Communal Organisation
Avenues for Further Research

Appendix: Spong Hill Data

Reviews and Features

"This monograph is a timely discussion of the reasons why heavy reliance on ethnic interpretations of grave artefacts (which has closed out substantial discussion of other interpretative possibilities) remains problematic. In critiquing the tenacious reluctance of some scholars to abandon this longstanding paradigm, James Harland's analysis is both nuanced and balanced. The book’s prose is lucid and accessible, the argument is thoughtful and well supported with historical and archaeological evidence, and this monograph makes a most welcome addition to the field."
- Professor Bonnie Effros, University of Liverpool

James M. Harland

Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum

A Modern Framework and its Problems

For centuries, archaeologists have excavated the soils of Britain to uncover finds from the early medieval past. These finds have been used to reconstruct the alleged communities, migration patterns, and expressions of identity of coherent groups who can be regarded as ethnic 'Anglo-Saxons'. Even in the modern day, when social constructionism has been largely accepted by scholars, this paradigm still persists.

This book challenges the ethnic paradigm. As the first historiographical study of approaches to ethnic identity in modern 'Anglo-Saxon' archaeology, it reveals these approaches to be incompatible with current scholarly understandings of ethnicity. Drawing upon post-structuralist approaches to self and community, it highlights the empirical difficulties the archaeology of ethnicity in early medieval Britain faces, and proposes steps toward an alternative understanding of the role played by the communities of lowland Britain – both migrants from across the North Sea and those already present – in transforming the Roman world.

James M. Harland

James M. Harland works on the history and archaeology of the late Roman Empire and its early medieval successor states. After receiving his PhD in History from the University of York, he took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tübingen. He is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Bonn.