Social Anthropologies of the Welsh: Past and Present

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Edited by W. John Morgan and Fiona Bowie

Asking the perennial question, ‘Who are the Welsh?’, this collection illustrates the history of anthropology in Wales and its distinctive contributions to this debate. Its essays range from the ethnographic insights of Gerald of Wales in the twelfth century, to analyses of the multicultural Wales of today. Contributors discuss the legacy of Iorwerth Peate, co-founder of the Welsh Folk Museum of St Fagans (now the National Museum of History), and the schools of research pioneering community studies of Welsh rural life in the second half of the twentieth century. Writings on the changing nature of family relations in de-industrialized settings such as the 1950s ‘new’ town of Cwmbrân and a contemporary Welsh public-housing estate provide new insights, while research on shifting patterns of religious adherence re-examine what has often been seen as a defining characteristic of Welsh society. Case studies on the challenges faced by European immigrants in Wales post Brexit and the Welsh diaspora in Patagonia add a global dimension.

The interdisciplinary nature of anthropology as practised in Wales brings both a richness and openness born of collaboration. Revealing both the startling variety and continuity of Welsh life and identity, certain themes consistently emerge: connections with place and the natural world as a way of being Welsh, the complex meanings of language in identity formation and the role of kinship in giving a sense of belonging to the Welsh nation.

Since the pioneering social studies of the likes of Alwyn Rees and Ronald Frankenberg, Isabel Emmett and Joseph Loudon, Wales has inspired significant anthropological contributions. This volume is no less pioneering in its interdisciplinary focus on ‘the Welsh’. With Great Britain’s unity once more being called into question, and relations to Europe and the wider world open to debate, this is a necessary volume.
Prof. Nigel Rapport, University of St Andrews

W. John Morgan is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Education, University of Nottingham; Honorary Professor, School of Social Sciences, and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, and Data, Cardiff University.

Fiona Bowie is Research Affiliate, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, Oxford University, and a member of Wolfson College, Oxford.

Contributors: Helen Blakely, David Dallimore, Howard Davis, Marta Eischsteller, Elaine Forde, Taulant Guma, Chris Hann, Rhys Dafydd Jones, Robin Mann, John O Connell, Elen Phillips, Huw Pryce, Gareth Rees, Iwan Wyn Rees, Marilyn Strathern.

Introduction – W. John Morgan and Fiona Bowie; Chapter 1: Horizons of comparison – Marilyn Strathern; Chapter 2: Gerald of Wales: Medieval ethnographer of the Welsh – Huw Pryce; Chapter 3: Sir William Jones: Welsh Orientalist and comparative musicologist – John O’Connell; Chapter 4: Wales in miniature: Iorwerth C. Peate and the Welsh Folk Museum – Elen Phillips; Chapter 5: Anthropological perspectives on religion in Wales – Fiona Bowie; Chapter 6: The Welsh in diaspora: Patagonia – Iwan Wyn Rees; Chapter 7: Community studies and twentieth-century social change: Perspectives on Welsh society – Gareth Rees; Chapter 8: Exploring civil society through the lens of place: Illustrations from a post-industrial Welsh village -Robin Mann, David Dallimore, Howard Davis and Marta Eichsteller; Chapter 9: Making sense of welfare reform: History, community and kinship in the South Wales valleys – Helen Blakely; Chapter 10: One Wales, one model?: Complicating ways of knowing Wales – Elaine Forde; Chapter 11 ‘I didn’t even know that Wales existed’: European Union migrants’ participation and belonging in Wales – Taulant Guma and Rhys Dafydd Jones; Chapter 12: Voyages around fathers: Class, community, and mobility in industrial South Wales – Chris Hann; Contributors; Index

Published in association with the Royal Anthropological Institute

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-33-1, £60.00 (GBP), $90.00 (USD)

This volume is available from the RAI in a limited paperback edition for Fellows at £20.00 (including P&P). Institutional inquiries for the hardback should be addressed please to the publisher ( Orders from Fellows may come directly to the RAI, to