James M. Harland

Postdoctoral Researcher

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Heusallee 18–24
53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62952
dharland@uni-bonn.de

Profilbild James Harland.jpeg
© James Harland

Academic Profile

I work on the history and archaeology of the late antique and early medieval worlds, where my scholarly work meets at the intersection of two core themes: the transformation of socio-political identities in the late antique world, and the modern reception of this transformation in both scholarly and popular settings.

My recently published monograph, Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum, marries critical approaches to sociology, anthropology, history, archaeology, and philosophy to reconsider the migration of the Saxons to Britain and the end of Roman Britain (c. 350–600). It is the first historiographical assessment of modern attempts to infer ethnic identity from the archaeological record in this period. I argue that we must reconsider the meaning signalled by the material objects (such as burial costume, weapons, human remains, and buildings) that have to date been labelled ‘Anglo-Saxon’, and abandon assumptions, derived even today from nationalist and colonial contexts, about how this material signals coherent ‘Germanic’ identity. Instead, I relate the appearance of this material to the transformation of civic and gender identities across the late Roman world, highlighting how the ties between the Empire and the people on its peripheries enabled the participation of the latter in such processes. My analytical framework draws on the poststructuralist semiotics of Jacques Derrida as well as Deleuzian assemblage theory to offer an alternative analysis of post-Roman funerary archaeology in Britain. I have also published work addressing these issues in venues such as Antiquity and Medieval Worlds, as well as in popular outlets such as The Public Medievalist or DAMALS: Das Magazin für Geschichte. De Gruyter have just published my edited volume, Interrogating the ‘Germanic’, which I co-edited with Matthias Friedrich – the volume is a call to re-examine long held assumptions about the analytical categories with which we study the groups who existed on the peripheries of the Roman Empire, as well as the successor states to the Roman Empire who claimed descent from those groups.

I am working on a new project which seeks to further this re-examination. This will build upon my past work’s rejection of simplistic narratives regarding ethnic solidarity or mass migration as explanations for the new networks which developed in the North Sea and Iberia after the withdrawal of official Roman rule. In particular, I want to examine one crucial relationship of asymmetrical dependency, that of Romanness as an ideology drawn upon and redeployed by actors whom this very ideology would classify as ‘barbarian’. This was an identity category which bore considerable ramifications for those drawn into its orbit on the peripheries of the Roman Empire, yet contemporary historiography, even that purporting to take a postcolonial approach, has often framed the polities shaped by subjects from that Empire’s peripheries in the course of the Western Empire’s collapse as a process of national formation,

Holistically considering the life, death and afterlife of Empire in its periphery through the adoption, reworking and reuse of Empire’s ideological and material components by those on its peripheries may help us to better understand the legacy which that simultaneously liberating but traumatic process left on the subjectivities of premodern subaltern communities.

2013–2017
PhD History, University of York (U.K.), Thesis: “Deconstructing Anglo-Saxon Archaeology: A Critical Enquiry into the Study of Ethnicity in Lowland Britain in Late Antiquity, c. 350–600.” Advisor: Prof. Guy Halsall. Examiner: Dr. James Gerrard (Newcastle)

2012–2013
Master Medieval Studies, Distinction, University of York (U.K.), Dissertation: “The Saxons in the Roman Imaginary: Changing Perspectives in the Late Antique West.” Winner of the York Centre for Medieval Studies Dissertation Prize

2009–2012 
Bachelor English Literature and Language, First Class Honours, University of Leicester (U.K.)

Since 2021
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

2020­–2021
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Ancient History, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, 2019. SFB 923 “Threatened Orders.”

2019–2019
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, DFG Center for Advances Studies, “Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages,” Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, 2019

2018–2018
Associate Lecturer in History (fixed-term), Department of Humanities, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

2014–2018
Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of History, University of York, 2014–17

2021–2022
Barbarian Military Recruitment in Late Antiquity: Gender, Property, Taxation and the Transformation of the Roman World, MA Slavery and Dependency Studies (Universität Bonn)

2021­–2022
Doing Research II, MA Slavery and Dependency Studies (Universität Bonn)

2020–2021
“Anglo-Saxons”, Britain, and the aduentus Saxonum: the ‘decline and fall’ of a Roman province? (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

2018
The Later Roman Empire, AD 235–645 (Northumbria University)

2017
Narrators and Historical Memory in the Middle Ages, c. 350–1000 (University of York)

2017–2018
From Rome to the Renaissance: The Transformation of Traditional Societies, c. 400–1650 (University of York)

2015 
The End of the Roman World: The Transformations of the Year 600, c. 550–650 (University of York)

2014–2017
Making Histories (Department of History, University of York)

 

As moderator for oral examinations

2020
Konstantin der Große und seine Zeit: Geschichte und Legende (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

Pastoral care and student support

2017–2018
Careers Assistant, University of York Careers Service

2013
College Welfare Tutor, Vanbrugh College, University of York

Recognition

2015
Nominated for York Teaching Award

2020–present
Research Fellow, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. CRC 923 „Bedrohte Ordnungen“. Employed as a Projektbearbeiter at TV-L13 65% salary.

2020 
Offered a Visiting Research Fellowship, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin. Visiting Research Stipend for Jan–Feb, €1860 plus free accommodation (not taken up due to Tübingen CRC fellowship)

2019
Research Fellow, German Research Foundation Center for Advanced Studies 2496 “Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages,” Jan–Dec, €27,600

2019
Made it through to the final round of selection (post peer-review) for the FRIAS CO-FUND Marie Curie Early Career Fellowship, Universität Freiburg.

2019
Made it through to the final round of selection (post peer-review) for the Konstanz Zukunftskolleg Early Career Fellowhip, Universität Konstanz, 2019

2013–2017
PhD Research Stipend UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, Block Grant Partnership. £40,770 plus tuition fee waiver worth approximately £3,500/annum.

2016
York Humanities Research Centre PG Collaborative Partnership Grant. £600 for ‘Interrogating the Germanic: a category and its use in Late Antiquity in the Early Middle Ages’ (Joint bid with Matthias Friedrich, Universität Freiburg)

2016
Royal Historical Society. £500 for ‘Interrogating the Germanic’

2016
Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literatures. £400 for ‘Interrogating the Germanic’

2016
Department of Art History, University of York. £380 for ‘Interrogating the Germanic’

2016
Department of History, University of York. £200 for ‘Interrogating the Germanic’

2013
Centre for Medieval Studies Dissertation Prize, University of York. Award for the highest-scoring dissertation on the MA in Medieval Studies. £100.

03/2019–06/2019
Historical consultant for English Heritage, on “the history of migration and Englishness”

  • Elected Member of the Internationales Sachsensymposion
  • Member of the Royal Historical Society
  • Member of the Society for Medieval Archaeology

International invited lectures

2022
“ ‘Anglo-Saxons?’ Historiography and the Archaeology of Identity,” Society of Antiquaries of London. February 17th 2022 (Invitation from the SAL confirmed).

2019
“The North-western Provinces in Crisis: Julian’s Campaigns on the Rhine and the Reorientation of the Late Roman Economy,” University of Oxford Late Roman Seminar, February.

2019
“The Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum: Rethinking Ethnicity in Britain during the so-called ‘Migration Age’,” Universität Konstanz, November.

2018
“The Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum: Rethinking Ethnicity in Britain during the so-called ‘Migration Age’,” School Research Seminar, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, October.

2018
“Deconstructing Anglo-Saxon Archaeology: an introduction,” Institute for Historical Research Interdisciplinary Seminar on Medievalism, May.

2018
“Rethinking Ethnicity in Britain During the “Migration Period’,” Kolloquium des Seminar für Mittelaltergeschichte, University of Tübingen, Germany, February.

2017
“The End of Roman Rule and the adventus Saxonum: rethinking ethnicity in post-Roman Britain,” Roman Archaeology Research Seminar, University of Newcastle, February.

Local lectures and seminars

2019
“The North-western Provinces in Crisis: Julian’s Campaigns on the Rhine and the Reorientation of the Late Roman Economy,” University of Tübingen, Germany, December.

Invited Conference papers

2021
“Liturgification and the Visigothic Court: auctoritas between Iberia and Byzantium.” Leeds International Medieval Congess, July.

2021
“Can we infer ethnic identity from material culture? A comparative look at the Late Antique West,” Workshop: The Archaeology of Ethnic Phenomena and the Pervasiveness of Methodological Nationalism. Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia, Bulgaria, April [Conducted over Zoom due to COVID-19]

2020
“Can we infer ethnic identity from material culture? A comparative look at the Late Antique West,” State University of New York, Buffalo, USA, March 2020 [cancelled due to COVID-19]

2019
“Mittelalter und Politik,” Workshop “Mittelalter nach der Moderne,” Greven Verlag (organized by Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold), Cologne, Germany, December.

2019
“The North-western Provinces in Crisis: Julian’s Campaigns on the Rhine and the Reorientation of the Late Roman Economy,” Narratology for Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Universität Innsbruck, Austria, November.

2018
“Militarisation in Unexpected Places? Rethinking ethnicity and the post-Roman transition at the early Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery of Spong Hill, Norfolk,” Early Medieval Militarisation: An Archaeological Perspective, Universität Freiburg, Germany, November.

2018
“Memories of Migration? So-called ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Burial Costume of the Fifth Century,” Leeds International Medieval Congress, July.

2017
“Britain and the Transformation of the Roman World: Rethinking Rupture, Ideology, and Time,” Theoretical Archaeology Group, University of Cardiff, Wales December. (co-presented with Katherine Fliegel)

2017
“Comparing Britain and Northern Gaul: New Approaches to the Transformation Problem,” The Transformation of the Roman World Reconsidered, Alfried-Krupp-Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald, Germany, October.

2016
“Problematizing ‘Otherness’ in Early Anglo-Saxon Archaeology,” “Self and “Other”: The Construction and Perception of “Otherness” in Late Antiquity, Universität Kiel, Germany, November.

2016
“A Habitus Barbarus in Sub-Roman Britain? Towards a differential ontological Anglo-Saxon archaeology,” Interrogating the “Germanic”: A Category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, University of York, May.

2015
“The Saxons in the Roman Imaginary: Changing Perspectives in Late Antique Gaul,” 66th Internationales Sachsensymposion, Universität Leipzig, Germany, September.

2015
“The Ethnic Problem in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology: towards a Derridean deconstruction,” Leeds International Medieval Congress, July.

2014
“The Saxons in the Roman Imaginary: Changing Perspectives in Late Antique Gaul,” 66th Internationales Sachsensymposion, Leeds International Medieval Congress, July.

2013
“The Transition from Roman to Anglian York in its wider context: an accurate model?” Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Colloquium, Aberdeen, 2013

 

Workshops, conferences and conference panels co-organised

2020
The Genetic Turn in Early Medieval Migration Research: Challenging the re-emergence of biological essentialism in pre-modern identity studies. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. April 1­–3rd  [postponed due to COVID-19]

2019
Material Narratives of Late Antiquity, I: Elite Sites and New Datasets. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 2019 (co-organised with Andrew Welton)

Material Narratives of Late Antiquity, II: Continuity and Change. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 2019 (co-organised with Andrew Welton)

Material Narratives of Late Antiquity, III: Epigraphy and Antiquarians. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 2019 (co-organised with Andrew Welton)

2017
#PublicMedievalism. Fringe workshop at the Leeds International Medieval Congress, July (co-organised with Sihong Lin)

2016
Interrogating the “Germanic”: a category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. University of York. May 13th–15th 2016 (programme committee chair)

Panel Chair

2021
Localities and Local Identities in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, I: Inferring the Local in Late Antique and Early Medieval Archaeology. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July.

2021
Book Launch: Mateusz Fafinski, Roman Infrastructure in Early Medieval Britain (organised by Amsterdam University Press)

2021
Workshop: The Archaeology of Ethnic Phenomena and the Pervasiveness of Methodological Nationalism. Center for Advanced Study, Sofia, Bulgaria, April 2021. Moderator for the Morning Session.

2019
Late Antique Materialities, IV: Art & Materiality. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July

2018
Remembering Communities in Early Medieval Europe, II: Memory and Geography. Leeds International Medieval Congress, July

2018
The Reproduction of Medieval Identity, Ethnicity and Nationhood, III. Leeds International Medieval Congress. July

Research Monograph

  • 2021. Ethnic Identity and the Archaeology of the aduentus Saxonum. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

 

Edited volumes (peer-reviewed)

  • 2020. With Matthias Friedrich (eds.) Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: a category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexicon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 123. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2021.

Reviews of Interrogating the “Germanic”:

“…[The volume] is one of the most important volumes published in the twenty-first century and should be read by all scholars working on the European early Middle Ages. It will, hopefully, lead to more careful enquiries into the past”. Sehepunkte 21.5, 2021. http://www.sehepunkte.de/2021/05/35088.html2

 “… the volume is a fine reevaluation”. Journal of Germanic Linguistics, forthcoming 2021.

 

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • 2019. Memories of migration? The ‘Anglo-Saxon’ burial costume of the fifth century AD. Antiquity 93.370: 954–969.
  • 2017. Rethinking ethnicity and ‘Otherness’ in early Anglo-Saxon England. Medieval Worlds 5: 113–142.

Peer-reviewed book chapters

  • 2020. Introduction: The ‘Germanic’ and its discontents. In Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: a category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.
  • 2020. A habitus barbarus in sub-Roman Britain? In Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: a category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.
  • 2019. Imagining the Saxons in late antique Gaul. In Sächsische Leute und Länder: Benennung und Lokalisierung von Gruppenidentitäten im ersten Jahrtausend, edited by M. Augstein and M. Hardt. Brunswick: Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum,  45–56.

Public Scholarship

  • 2021. Iberische Halbinsel (bis 711): Das Reich der Westgoten. DAMALS: Das Magazin für Geschichte 2/2021.
  • 2018. How Did Britain Collapse When The Romans Left? Guest speaker on the History is Sexy Podcast, hosted by Emma Southon and Janina Matthewson. Episode 160.
  • 2017. ‘Race’ in the trenches: Anglo-Saxons, ethnicity, and the misuse of the medieval past. The Public Medievalist: Race and Racism in Middle Ages, http://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-in-the-trenches/3

Book Reviews

  • Forthcoming    Review: Andrew Kurt, Minting, State and Economy in the Visigothic Kingdom: From Settlement in Aquitaine through the First Decade of the Muslim Conquest of Spain. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020. Ancient History Bulletin.
  • 2021. Review: Neue Wege der Frühmittelalterforschung – Bilanz und Perspektiven. Edited by Walter Pohl, Maximilian Diesenberger and Bernhard Zeller.’ Early Medieval Europe (2021)

Conference Reports

  • 2017. “The ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’: The Construction and Perception of “Otherness” in Late Antiquity. International Workshop: Kiel, Christian-Albrechts-Universität, 23-25 Novembre 2016,” Bollettino di Studi Latini 47, 1,  324–329. (co-authored with Veronika Egetenmeyr)

Manuscripts in preparation

Anthropological Theory and Historians: Moving Beyond Texts. In Bonnie Effros, (ed.) Archaeology for Historians: Why Material Evidence is Changing How We Understand the Early Middle Ages. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
“Liturgification and the Visigothic Court: The Development of an Ideology of Authority between Iberia and Constantinople”.
With Isaac Smith, Adrian Masters, and Josh Shaw, ‘Conspiratorial Thinking and Threatened Orders: A Historical Overview,’ History Today.

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