Site icon International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England

Statement on the term “Anglo-Saxon”

In 2019, this society voted to change its name from “International Society of Anglo-Saxonists” (ISAS) to “International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England” (ISSEME), in recognition of the problematic connotations that are widely associated with the terms “Anglo-Saxon” and “Anglo-Saxonist” in public discourse.

ISSEME possesses no authority to legislate rules for our field; only to make recommendations. To that end, it is our intent that the guidance which follows will foster a respectful, collegial atmosphere wherein scholarly discourse among the various parties we represent may thrive. As such, we realize that this statement must be adaptable to changing circumstances and may evolve over time. The leadership of ISSEME respects that some journals and subdisciplines within the field have already begun issuing their own statements addressing this matter. What follows is our guidance, from the perspective of an umbrella organization concerned about promoting unity among our various constituencies. ISSEME prides itself on being an international and multidisciplinary organisation that includes scholars who work at the cutting edge of their subjects. Terminological usage inevitably differs between specific fields of inquiry, and between countries (and in different languages); and individual members are best placed to decide what the correct terms of reference should be within their own area of expertise. Members speaking at conferences organised by this society, or writing in publications or documents issued by this society, are at liberty to use whatever terminology most accurately and specifically describes what they are doing. They are, however, encouraged to do so with kindness and compassion in mind, and also to consider the appropriateness of their language in terms of both scholarly rigour and the sensitivities of colleagues from all backgrounds.

Choice of terminology at events or in publications endorsed by ISSEME emphatically does not extend to racism or other forms of hate speech. ISSEME utterly and unreservedly deplores prejudice and discrimination of all forms, including (but not limited to) in relation to race, nationality, gender identity and sexual orientation.

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