The past few weeks have been incredibly busy for this Viking Specialist- largely because I am helping to paint a house, not really anything cool such as a conference or better yet a dig. Oh well, such is life when you are in post-thesis submission purgatorio [limbo just sounds like a dance to me so here’s my nod to Dante for the day].
As I work one of the things that I consider is the concept of self-identification. I study medieval identity which very rarely acknowledges the presence of a recognizable individual, even though the material studied is often composed of the efforts many individuals. Anthropologists and sociologists working with modern populations are taught to recognize the amount of agency inherent to the individual as this can effect the choices made in creating and maintaining identity during the course of negotiating the social world. For all of this clarity in discussing the individual subject as a distinct “other” when it comes to viewing one’s own position within this network it can become complicated largely because it is very easy for living populations to recognize that identity is practiced on several levels of interaction. For instance as an American trained anthropologist I self-identify as a historical anthropologist. This is the approach I take to my research and is involved in what type of evidence I consider suitable. However as my pg degrees are from a British institution in archaeology which has resulted in a no few number of discussions about the distinct nature of British archaeology between myself and other researchers while abroad. There many see me solely as an archaeologist and see archaeology as being mutually exclusive from anthropology rather than seeing anthropology as encompassing archaeology along with biological, linguistical and modern sociocultural considerations of humans as a species. This is a debate long-standing if you are not already familiar with it and I am far from the first in voicing its presence.
Anyways included in this installment is a diagram I produced for my MA dissertation showing Maes Howe, Orkney, and some of its more famous runic inscriptions.