Kerryn Husk is an Associate Research Fellow at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School. His research interests focus on issues of social inequality, group classification, and research methodology. Methodologically, he is interested in the epistemology and application of both qualitative and quantitative methods in the social sciences.
The Legitimation of Ethnicity: The Case of the Cornish
Article first published online: 3 OCT 2012
Journal compilation © 2012 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism
Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Special Features Section on Creating the ‘Other’ in Germany and Britain
Volume 12, Issue 2, pages 249–267, October 2012
How to Cite
Husk, K. and Williams, M. (2012), The Legitimation of Ethnicity: The Case of the Cornish. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 12: 249–267. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-9469.2012.01176.x
- Issue published online: 3 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 3 OCT 2012
In this article we examine the complex processes involved in small-scale ethnicity emergence and legitimation, and highlight the multi-dimensional elements present in moving from a strong regional identity to an externally legitimate ethnic group. We use Cornwall as a case study: administered as an English county, there has been a historic ethno-cultural movement for recognition alongside recent inclusion in national statistics; however, legitimation by external elites has been problematic. The first sections outline the Cornish as a group; we argue that however one conceptualises ‘ethnicity’, the people of Cornwall must constitute such a group. We examine the dichotomous effects of the interplay between strong regional assertion and a Cornish ethnicity more formally. In the latter sections we apply these arguments to broader sociological discussions around the legitimation of particular groups, and show that the Cornish are indicative of the wider theoretical literature. In conclusion, we assert that the Cornish are representative of the push/pull mechanisms felt acutely in any core/periphery power relations, and should be seen as central to emerging small-scale ethnic groups more generally.