Session 45: Ystafell 9
Celticity and contested identities/ideologies

Chair: Juliette Wood

Celtic Studies from below: Celticity and the Welsh linguistic group

Richard Glyn Roberts

This paper presents a histoire croisée of Celtic Studies and the Welsh linguistic group, focussing on the disparity between the perpetual recourse to the concept of celticity in scholarly discourse and the much more sparing use of the concept in the cultural production of one of the groups it claims to define. In the course of the nineteenth century the points of interface between Celtic Studies and nonconformist culture - the Baptist and Methodist missions to Brittany, commentaries on the Epistle to the Galatians, and the exposure of candidates for the ministry to linguistic science in German universities - provided the minimal conditions for the diffusion of a minimal awareness of celticity. Towards the end of the century, shared political objectives within the state gave rise to the hitherto unprecedented expression of Welsh-Irish celticity, in the context of expanding anglophony on which this solidarity was also contingent. In the twentieth century celticity served as a rare marker of cultural distinction but otherwise remained a marginal, sometimes derided, feature in Welsh culture. Conversely, celticity is central to scholarly discourse on the Welsh linguistic group and constitutes the first step in its cultural and linguistic expropriation.

Celtic Studies and the Roma: crossings in the borderlands of Celtic Studies at Liverpool

Simon Brooks
Prifysgol Abertawe/Swansea

This paper looks at the connections between scholars of Celtic Studies and Romani Studies at the University of Liverpool at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Although scholars at the University like John Sampson, author of The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales (1926), and J. Glyn Davies of the Celtic Department, made their contribution in fields identified today as Romani and Celtic Studies, they had interests in both disciplines and these often converged. Other key figures at Liverpool, such as Kuno Meyer and T. Gwynn Jones, also contributed to this discourse on both Celtic and Romani linguistics and anthropology. Furthermore, all these scholars knew each other well, and often assisted one another in their studies. Working out from this very specific starting point, the paper will suggest that, in many ways, academic Celtic and Romani Studies might be thought of as branches of the same discipline, namely the study of marginalised non-metropolitan, and often non-Anglophone, ethnic groups within the context of Britain. It is true to say that this discipline belonged to the realm of the Romantic. However, the involvement of Welsh scholars in the discourse belies the suggestion that there is nothing here but a localised form of orientalism. Rather the disciplines might be thought of as important staging posts in the development of the politics of recognition for their associated groups.

Identity politics in the Isle of Man General Election 2016

Thomas Fidler and John Ault
University of Exeter

Using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies of the election manifestos of candidates from the 2016 general election, alongside media coverage in the lead up to the election that contributed to the personal image constructed by candidates seeking election and the extent to which their policies and image may be considered ‘Celtic’. Analysis of both the policies and the language used is provided as to whether the ‘Celtic’ brand of politics brings a greater level of electoral success.

Described as a ‘quiet revolution’, the Isle of Man General Election saw a significant turnover in Man’s elected representatives. The House of Keys, the elected body for this Celtic Nation of Britain, saw a number of long-standing representatives opt not to seek re-election. Constituency boundary changes added to the atmosphere of change on the Isle of Man.

Rogers, Fox and Gerber have emphasised that ‘voting is not merely a decision, but it is also an expression of one’s identity’, though in an election largely composed of independents, what is the delineating factor that separates one candidate from another in the selection process for the voter in the Isle of Man?