Celtic New Zealand, eh?

Racism is a very ugly thing and we rightfully condemn it. One of my pet peeves is when people say `Now, I’m not a racist, but…’ because the next say they say is going to be racist.

It is hard to know what to do about racism; it is an irrational belief and irrational beliefs are difficult to eradicate. Yet, no matter how horrible `mere’ racism is, there some truly terrifying variants of it that seem more conscious than mere irrationality. `Academic’ racism, where some pseudo-history or the like is used to justify the irrational hatred or dislike of another people, now that really horrifies me.

So, what to make of a recent open letter by Dr. Scott Hamilton to the editor of the Franklin E Local? In it Scott takes to task Mykeljon Winckel for not only endorsing a thesis that a Celtic people colonised Aotearoa before the Maori but that the Maori came in, raped and pillaged this first people, and then have engaged, with the academic community, in a conspiracy to hide the true history of this country?

My BA is a double-major in Philosophy and Anthropology, specifically Archaeology and I was, at one stage, pretty far advanced on a thesis proposal for examining, in re the epistemology, how archaeological explanations actually work. Whilst working on my undergraduate degree I heard about Barry Brailsford and his controversial history of the Waitaha. I read a number of books on supposed pre-cursor peoples to the Maori in New Zealand. Not because I thought there was much to them but because I was fascinated by how people could believe such wildly improbable things.

I’ve long wanted to write something substantial on alternative histories, using New Zealand as an example. The Franklin E Local issue has rammed home the need for such a work. In lieu of stopping work on the thesis and moving on to project two right now I’ve taken the opportunity to interview Scott for the `Dentith Files’ this Sunday (sometime between 11 and 12pm, 30th of November). It’s a rather quick twenty minute overview of some of the points raised in the Franklin E Local material; it’s also rather a shame that listeners didn’t get to listen to the other hour and an half of discussion we had outside the recording booth because it was rather helpful in sorting out a range of problems with the Celtic Thesis, as well as allowing us to draw some rather startling parallels to other suspicious alternative `histories’ from around the world.

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.