Tag Archives: Identity

Upcoming Lecture: “Di­a­spora Na­tion; or, What is the Jews?” and Workshop on Gender and Religious Identity

You may be interested in the following upcoming public  Collegium Lecture in Helsinki at the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies. The theme of the lecture is very much relevant also to CSTT related research.

“Di­a­spora Na­tion; or, What is the Jews?” by Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric, UC Berkeley.

Time: Monday, May 27 at 5 pm (with re­cep­tion)

Venue: Uni­versity of Helsinki Main Build­ing, Small Hall (Fa­bi­aninkatu 33, 4th floor)


In this lecture, I will contend that the binary opposition: The Jews is a religion/The Jews is a nation is based on a false dichotomy. It is further flawed by the assumption that nation is tantamount to nation-state such that only the option “religion” constitutes an oppositional position vis-a-vis a Jewish nation state. I will discuss scholarship that proves definitively that many–if not most–early Zionist political thought did not involve the building of a state. The bulk of the lecture will outline the idea of a Diaspora Nation as the once and (possible) future for the continued existence of the Jews.

For more information about the event and the speaker, visit the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies website.

Workshop: Gender and Religious Identity

There will also be a workshop before the lecture on May 27 organized in honour of the visit by Boyarin. The theme is Gender and Religious Identity, and speakers include Martti Nissinen, Saana Svärd, Outi Lehtipuu, and many others. The workshop is open for all: for more information click here.

The Program of the Workshop:

9.00: Martti Nissinen, HY: The Agency of the Female Prophets of the Hebrew Bible: Independent or Instrumental? Prophetic or Political?

9.30: Saana Svärd, HY: Studying Gender in the Ancient Near East

10.00: Outi Lehtipuu, HY: “No Male and Female”: Gender and the Rhetoric of Recognition in Early Christianity

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00: Susanna Asikainen, HY: Investigating Emphasized Femininities in the Rewritten Biblical Narratives

11.30: Katharina Keim, Lund: Women and Gender in Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer

12.00-13.00: Lunch break

13.00-1530: Re­li­gious iden­tity ses­sion

13.00: Antti Vanhoja & Nina Nikki, HY: Paulinism and Anti-Paulinism: Cultural Evolutionary Perspectives

13.30: Pekka Lindqvist, ÅA: Confrontations and Exegesis in Early Judaism

14.00-14.30: Coffee break

14.30: Maijastina Kahlos, HY: Pagans, Heretics, or Sorcerers? Labels and Identities in Local Religion in the Fifth Century CE

15.00: Riikka Tuori, HY: Karaite Identity in Early Modern Europe


The cover picture is from the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv – en:Beit Hatefutsot. Exhibit showing “One culture:Many facets. The growth of pluralism in modern jewish spiritual life.” By Sodabottle / Wikimedia Commons.

Call for papers – The Strange and the Familiar: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East (Helsinki)

The call for papers for the conference “The Strange and the Familiar: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East”, University of Helsinki, August 22-29 (2019) is now open!

This conference analyzes the interaction of identity and empire in the ancient Near East during the second and first millennia BCE. Identity is often created through contrast with the foreign or unfamiliar, and this conference considers how the frontier and the lands and peoples beyond it could be used as that marker of “otherness” necessary for identity construction. Empires could, and did, alter the identity of the areas and peoples under their imperial dominion, but they did not emerge from such new encounters completely unchanged. Instead, interaction with the other can similarly alter the identity of the imperialists.

It centers on such questions as:

  • How do empires construct their own internal and external identity?
  • How are the borders of empire constructed and defined? How may a border be considered not only geographically, but also culturally, legally, and politically?
  • How is the foreign ‘othered’ within the space of empire? How are the inhabitants of conquered territories assimilated by empire? Alternatively, how do they maintain their own unique identity
    under empire?
  • What mechanics of power are employed by the empire to control its more peripheral regions? How is this control represented across textual genres?
  • How can we trace the impact of empire in the areas under imperial control? What can other avenues of evidence, such as archaeological and material finds, tell us about the influence of empire on identity?

The conference invites papers that consider such questions, as well as the more general topic of identity and empire, in the context of the areas that lie within the broad heading of the ancient Near East. This includes papers that examine empire in the context of Assyria and Babylonia; the interactions between Mesopotamia and Egypt; connections between Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Eastern Mediterranean; and the impact of empire on the historical context of the Hebrew Bible. Papers may evaluate the conference topic from the perspective of textual, archaeological, or art historical methods, and papers combining such approaches, or integrating anthropological or sociological methodologies, are particularly welcome.

Funding has been secured to cover the cost of housing for conference speakers, with further funds dedicated to defray, if not entirely cover, the cost of travel to Finland. The organizers welcome proposals from scholars outside of Europe, but regret that the available funding may not be able to fully cover the cost of transatlantic or similarly long-distance flights. This conference is hosted by the University of Helsinki Center of Excellence: Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions; the Center of Excellence: Ancient Near Eastern Empires, and the Finnish Institute for the Middle East.

Paper proposals of up to 350 words should be sent to Gina Konstantopoulos (gina.konstantopoulos@helsinki.fi) by March 15 2019. Any questions may also be sent to Gina Konstantopoulos.

Heidelberg Colloquium – Aram and Israel

by Juha Pakkala

Five members of the CSTT (Katri Saarelainen, Emilia Tapiola, Izaak de Hulster, Martti Nissinen and Juha Pakkala) participated in a colloquium on Aram and Israel in Heidelberg in September 1–4, 2014. The focus of the colloquium was on cultural interaction, political borders and identity-building concerning the relationship between the Aramean realm and Israel in the 12th to 8th centuries bce. Continue reading Heidelberg Colloquium – Aram and Israel