Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes


I’m a Modern Celt and I’m Scottish but very English, and may even have Scandinavian roots

Roots: Image by PDPhotos from Pixabay

Two weeks ago, I came across a link that Benjamin Doxtdator posted titled On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity. Benjamin is an educator and accomplished blogger, you can find out more about him at his website.

The article was posted in a slightly acrimonious thread but it really made think about my own cultural identity(ies). CAORANN (Celtics Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism)  wrote about the concept of the Indigenous European, in the context of how some dodgy white groups have attempted to appropriate the term “Indigenous”.  And of course, they pointed out links between cultural appropriation and the selling of indigenous knowledge and culture for profit.

I read further about what Indigenous meant at the Wikipedia page on Indigenous Peoples. Despite the warnings at the top of the page, I think that is quite a good page on what is obviously a contentious topic for some people (the Talk Page gives some insights).

Specifically, the concept of Indigenous people in Europe was explored in the context of the definition developed by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP)

Indigenous communities, peoples, and nations are those that, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.

Over the last fifteen years, I have done genealogical research to learn more about my family history. The more research I do, the more Irish ancestors I find. I have one English great grandmother and the great great grandfather whom I assumed was English turned out to be Anglo-Irish. The remaining great grandparents were all born in Ireland, and likely generations before them. Genealogy became an act of social history for me, as I learned about their literacy, their sometimes frequent house moves,(in Scotlland) how many windows their flat/house had, their births, illnesses and deaths.

Does that make me Irish because most of my gene pool is Irish through and through? No I don’t think so. I think I was guilty of romanticising my Celtic ancestry in the early days of my genealogical research.  And then I read Watching the English by Kate Fox (review) and realised painfully quite how English I was.

And I’m certainly not Indigenous English or otherwise. So thanks Benjamin for sharing that article – I learned something.


francesbell • September 1, 2019

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  1. Liz September 4, 2019 - 4:53 pm Reply

    Not quite a direct response …

    Congratulations Frances !

    Watching you live at ALT Winning your award. but promoting femedtech ! So generous. So typical.

    For creative and inspiring work as we find on this blog.

    Hurrah for you !

    Liz (another Modern Celt ) on a wild and windy coast this week.

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