Tag Archives: sociology

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.

CFP “The Persian Empire, the Social Sciences, and Ancient Historiography” (Helsinki, Jan. 2019)

[Update] Deadline for abstracts extended to 3 June 2018.

The workshop “The Persian Empire, the Social Sciences, and Ancient Historiography” takes place at the University of Helsinki 9–11 January 2019. It is co-sponsored by the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions and the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires.

Studying the first Persian Empire (550 – 330 BCE) is both frustratingly immense and too restrictive, with extant evidence often not directly answering the questions we wish to ask of it. For social and cultural dynamics, very careful methodology is necessary to tease out more sophisticated understandings. However, it is no longer sufficient merely to mine existing theory that appears to be adaptable; rather, ancient historians need better integration in the broader social scientific discourse. Therefore, the purpose of this workshop is twofold: 1) for ancient historians to engage with cutting edge social scientific work and find new, potentially fruitful angles; 2) to contribute to the development of social scientific theory through the ancient evidence.

The workshop intends to bring together historians and social scientists, to discuss how theory and historical data can be better brought into dialogue—and to explore ideas for potentially fruitful new angles and collaborations

The keynote speakers will be Prof. Charis Bouteri (Sociology, Paris), Prof. Eve Caroli (Economics, Paris), and Prof. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Political Science, NYU).

Call for papers open

There is now a call for paper proposals for the workshop under the headings of sociology, economics, and political science, each day focuses on two general themes. For the sociology session we invite papers exploring social networks and social authority; for the economics session we invite papers on taxation and forced labor and forced migration; for the political science session we invite papers exploring imperial administration and elite identity.

Each day of the workshop will begin with a keynote lecture with discussion, followed by workshop of pre-circulated papers on the day’s themes, followed by a response and wider thematic discussion. It is our sincere hope that this format will enable as much evidence-based discussion of the theoretical issues as possible, as well as lay some groundwork for future collaboration between historians and social scientists.

Abstracts for 20-30 minute summarized papers should be submitted by 3 June 2018. Please indicate in the abstract the field heading (sociology, economics, or political science) and theme or themes. Abstracts should be submitted in pdf to jason.silverman@helsinki.fi. Accepted proposals will need to submit a draft paper for circulation to workshop participants before 15 December 2018. Abstracts from PhD candidates as well as senior scholars, and both historians and social scientists are warmly welcomed. Since the purpose of the workshop is exploratory and methodological, it is not envisioned that this event will result in an edited volume.