This thesis investigates the ‘Celtic’ label as a prevalent marker of ethnic association within multicultural Australia which is actively responded to on a multitude of levels. By following Queensland ‘Celticity’ through an assemblage of ethnographic sites, fieldwork was conducted with respondents to ascertain how identity representations of this kind are negotiated and conveyed through the medium of ‘tradition’ with a focus on heritage activities, social space, consumption and community. The central epistemological frames that were selected to examine these interactions include:
(1) Historia, which involves an analysis of the modes through which the ‘past’ is invoked in the present by revealing the historiographical lenses through which respondents relate to history; are informed by it; and select from its narratives that which is relevant to them in their everyday lives.
(2) Tradition, including an examination of revitalisation processes evident in the manner in which when expressing their ‘Celticity’, many respondents actively incorporate dynamic features into their cultural repertoires, whilst simultaneously asserting a continuing relationship with prior contexts via metaphorical dialogues with an ‘ancestral voice’.
(3) Material culture, particularly in the form of ‘ethnic dress’ which is argued to be acted upon as visual and emotive signifiers that construct shared social frameworks which bind participants communally by producing cultural meaning in the contemporary context.
(4) Sociolinguistics, is considered in terms of how linguistic strategies, like code switching, rhoticity and nomenclatural lexicons, are implemented to secure perceptible connections between ‘Celtic’ Queenslanders and the heritage languages that represent ‘homeland’
(5) Folklore, where an analysis is conducted in respect to the activation of ‘Celtic’ Faerie imagery which endorse impressions of a liminal ‘otherness’ and operate as allegories of worldview, spirituality, attitudes to nature, familial and domestic codes.
(6) Socio-spatiality, is discussed in reviewing how cemeteries, Irish pubs, standing stones and festival spaces, Gaelic street signs and football fields are sites which anchor and localise ‘Celticity’ by simultaneously managing notions of both living culture and social pasts.
The themes which arise from this research are argued to contribute to a better appreciation of the complex and multifaceted processes involved in the re-contextualisation of identity in migrant and post-migrant settings. In analysing the interactions between respondents and the cultural products that are made and re-made as expressive of membership in a wider ethnic collective, an aim of this thesis is to reconcile the dichotomy between over-simplistic approaches to traditional revitalisation as either spurious invention or as statically authentic. In approaching contemporary manifestations of ‘Celtic’ tradition in the Queensland setting as relational, restorative and experientially interpretive processes, this thesis investigates the manner in which culture is articulated in celebratory and phenomenological modes that constitute relevance and efficacy for respondents in a lived world.