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James Harland

James Harland works on the history and archaeology of late antique and early medieval Western Europe, specifically Britain and Gaul, with a focus on processes of transformation and ethnic change. His broader interests lie in ethnic identity, transformation and continuity, and military and economic history, in addition to the philosophical and ethical implications of the study of these fields and their reception and misuse in the modern day, drawing upon continental philosophy and literary theory to explore these concerns. His doctoral thesis was a critical historiography of the study of ethnic identity through archaeological means in late and post-Roman Britain, making use of ethnic sociology and continental philosophy to examine and interrogate the epistemological foundations which underpin this subject of study.


 "Can We Infer Ethnic Identity from Material Culture? A Comparative Look at the Late Antique West"

This paper builds upon my previous work studying the inference by scholars of ethnic identity from material culture that has to date been labelled ‘Anglo-Saxon'. In that work, I problematized the epistemologies and assumptions drawn upon by scholars in making such analyses in their work. In this follow up, building upon a recent project in which I have begun examining connections between the Visigothic and the Eastern Roman Courts in Late Antiquity, I extend the analyses of archaeological methodology to work done by scholars on ‘Visigothic' material culture, in order to propose that the problems with this kind of scholarship are universally extendable, owing to their originating from a set of epistemological and methodological problems, rather than issues of empiricism.



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