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Thread: I want to briefly rehearse the problems with the term "Anglo-Saxon" as a medieval term. In sum, it is a term with a racist history--in both Europe and America--since the 19th century at least. It also was not the primary term used in the medieval period.
Many white scholars have been quibbling with this second point, saying that Alfred used it in some charters or it was part of his title, or that people on the continent, such as Paul the Lombard or the Carolingians, used the term. That is correct but ignores the larger point.
The term "Anglo-Saxon" is not the primarily self-ID of the group we traditionally call the Anglo-Saxons. Alfred and a few others use it somewhat in the 8th and 9th century. Then it largely dies out. See Susan Reynolds on this (screenshot). Most people called themselves "Englisch"
(I would also ask why, given that a WoC is receiving death threats for suggesting changing the name, white scholars are spending SO MUCH TIME making historical quibbles)
Secondly: the term "Anglo-Saxon" (rather than the medieval "Anglosaxorum," etc) emerged largely in the 18th and 19th century as a direct result of racial Anglo-Saxonism in both the US *and* UK. This is well-documented. See two that I have screenshotted here.
Medievalists were VERY INVOLVED in this racist use of the term from the beginning. Horseman has shown how connected to this racist movement scholars like Edward Freeman, Sharon Turner, and Kemble were.
Medieval scholarship in the UK & US explicitly trafficked in racism. This is Jacob Abbott's 1862 History of King Alfred of England, which begins with a a theory of race that places Anglo-Saxons at the top. Abbott uses medieval studies to "prove" English racial superiority.
The 1852 Jubilee Edition of the works of King Alfred, the 1st edition & translation of Alfred's works into mod English, traced a line from Alfred to Victoria: “To Queen Victoria the works of her illustrious forefather King Alfred the Great are respectfully dedicated” (Giles iii)
As Kathleen Biddick has shown, the Early English Text Society saw itself as promoting OE lit as part of an explicitly colonial mission. They said "We are banded together to trace the springs [...] of the language that shall one day be the ruling tongue of the world."
Anglo-Saxonists in the early 20th-century directly worked with scientific racism in their scholarship, including phrenology. Kathleen Davis, Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Biddick, Adam Miyashiro, & others have documented the connections between medieval studies, imperialism, & racism.
It's almost impossible to stop listing examples from within the field. There is also a huge white supremacist movement in Euro-America that has used the term "Anglo-Saxon" to justify racism violence and colonial genocide for at least 200 years.
While medievalists keep saying we shouldn't "give in" to racists who have "co-opted" the term by abandoning it. But the term has been a tool of racist for OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS. It hasn't been co-opted. It was MADE for racism.
I am going to end with links to a series of scholarship by scholars of color who have been doing the hard work digging up the intersections between AS Studies and racism for years. Please read them, please listen to them, and please support them.
This is @adam_miya on the problems of the 2017 ISAS conference in Honolulu and the long racist history of "Anglo-Saxon" used in the Americas as part of colonial violence against indigenous peoples.

@adam_miya This is @slomuto on the problems of racism within medieval studies and the violence enacted in the name of the Middle Ages by white supremacists worldwide:

@adam_miya @slomuto This is Dr. Rambaran-Olm on racism within AS Studies:

@adam_miya @slomuto And this is the Medievalist of Color statement of support for Dr. Rambaran-Olm in the aftermath of her resignation from ISAS after their use of her as a token and their failure to address problems of racism and sexual harassment in the field and org:

@adam_miya @slomuto White ppl, please read & amplify the voices of scholars of color on these issues. Stop quibbling about proposed replacement names or historical details. Stop describing this as a US issue or a problem with external racists. The call is coming from inside the house on this one.
Update: this is the situation as it currently stands:

And this is Dr. Rambaran-Olm’s statement on steps forward that ISAS should be taking:

Please read and share
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