Conflicts and religio-political resolutions of conflict in the Greco-Roman world
The project focusses on studying the cultures of conflict and religio-political resolutions of conflict in the ancient world, taking social science aspects of conflict management into account. Project researchers investigate the various conditions that contributed to the emergence of conflicts in Antiquity. "Conditions" here means natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, harvest failures or changes in climate, but also health disasters like the plague and clashes between different political entities, religious communities or social groups as well as social-political upheaval and the conflicts of identity associated with them. The project’s researchers analyze the various positions prior to the conflicts and the different interests, opinions and values bound up with interpretations of the conflicts. The focus here is on the diverging or even contradictory representations of the causes of disasters and conflicts, as well as on the range of options for resolving conflicts. Researchers will analyze depictions of community conflict resolution in texts and images with the aim of identifying ancient reflections over the causes of conflicts, the actions of greatest significance in triggering conflicts and the protagonists of conflicts.
When a conflict was attributed to supernatural causes, political, social or religious communities and individuals would take specific religious steps to appease the gods. Researchers investigate whether this appeasement or the control of the situation by public authorities who carried out specific rituals represented a decisive factor for the resolution of the conflict. They also examine the question of whether and how such rituals may have promoted the resilience of the community and filled a stabilizing function. In addition, researchers investigate resolution strategies used in conflicts not put down to supernatural causes, such as consensus building and diplomacy. Individual strategies for conflict resolution, for instance the ritual of hiketeia or supplication, are also being analyzed.
The aim of the project is to establish a research group to study conflicts and religious political conflict resolution in the ancient world. The project funding will support the establishment of the working group and the hosting of an international conference on the topic.
PD Dr. Darja Šterbenc Erker is an assistant professor (Privatdozentin) of Classics at HU Berlin and assistant professor (docent) for Latin and Roman Literature at the University of Lubljana. Darja Šterbenc Erker has developed numerous research concepts that are well suited to research exploring the BAK’s annual theme. One example is a methodology used in research on the history of religion and the study of literature which facilitates the investigation of religio-political conflict resolution. In publications since her second book (Religiöse Rollen römischer Frauen in "griechischen" Ritualen, Steiner 2013), Dr. Erker has further refined the methods of literary analysis (Ambiguity and Religion in Ovid’s Fasti: Religious Innovation and the Imperial Family, Brill 2023). The project leader applies and delves into newer developments in international research on the ancient world – such as the incorporation of gender studies topics and perspectives and the consideration of the intersectionality of gender, social status and ethnicity or "race" – in both her research and teaching with sound scholarship.