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(Re-)Constructing Identities – Culture, Communication and Exchange in the Ancient World

11.02.2021 - 12.02.2021

Konferenz der BerGSAS und der University of Oxford

Identity' qua concept has been fundamental for the scholarly understanding of premodern societies. Communication and exchange have, in turn, been fundamental to how scholars conceive of 'identity': group membership; social identification; communication media; the built environment; interactions with the divine; exchanges with 'others' — all have been key to what it means to have an 'identity' and to how we define it. Developments within the natural sciences, including paleogenetics and stable isotope analysis, make 'identity' even more urgent by addressing previously insoluble or even inconceivable questions. At the same time, these new approaches risk reviving outdated concepts, like the "Kurgan hypothesis" by Marija Gimbutas, or even views comparable to those of Gustaf Kossinna, himself influenced by the "Kulturkreislehre" and the "Völkisch movement". Contributions to this conference may address, for instance, family traditions, the self-constitution of ancient societies, the use of "Others", identity-based conflict, and territorial claims. We shall discuss how myth, religion, collective memory, language, material culture, and culinary traditions define cultural identities and enforce cohesion. We encourage participation from doctoral candidates of different disciplinary backgrounds in order to ensure a variety of perspectives.

Contact and registration: ox-ber.grad.conference2020@berliner-antike-kolleg.org

This event will be funded by the Oxford-Berlin Graduate Network in Ancient Studies (OX/BER_HUM4), Berlin University Alliance.


February 11, 2021

14:00 – Opening
Monika Trümper, BerGSAS, Freie Universität Berlin
Tobias Reinhardt, Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford

First session: Identities at borders

14:10 – The Dynamics of a Frontier Landscape: the Lower Rhine from 50 BC to AD 500
Kai Radloff, PhD student in Classical Archaeology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

14:40 – The Oasis Identity: Turfan Basin before Han Dynasty
Xiaozhe Li, PhD student in Prehistoric Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin

15:10 –Dangerous Exchanges: Identity and Religion in the Boundary Areas of Roman Italy
Alexandra Creola, PhD candidate in Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan

15:40 – Coffee break


Second session: From material culture to identity

16:00 – Cretan mercenary archers and the Neo-Assyrian Empire
Konstantinos Markos, PhD candidate in Classical Archaeology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

16:30 – Food and Identity on the Silk Roads – Commensality in Sasanian Iran
Mette Bangsborg Thuesen, PhD student in Near Eastern Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin

17:00 –Keynote lecture: How are people made? On subjects and identities in Mesopotamia
Prof. Dr. Susan Pollock, Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin

18:00 – Discussion


February 12, 2021

Third session: Epigraphic legacy: inscribing identities

10:10 –From Individual Identities to Prosopographical Networks – A Case from Ancient Memphis
Anne Herzberg-Beiersdorf, PhD in Egyptology, Freie Universität Berlin

10:40 – Identity set in stone. The identity of benefactors through the physicality of inscriptions: a case study of bath euergetism in Roman Central Italy
Konogan Beaufay, DPhil in Classical Archaeology, Lincoln College, University of Oxford

11:10 – Problems and Politics of Writing Bactrian in Greek Script in the Kušān Empire
Stefan Härtel, PhD student in Iranistics, Freie Universität Berlin

11:40 – Coffee break


Fourth session: Constructing identities in Roman literature

12:00 –Identity Unconscious: Quintilian’s Tabula Rasa
Henry Bowles, PhD, DPhil student in Classical Languages and Literature, Christ Church College, University of Oxford

12:30 – Writing away the truth in Propertius 3.6 and 3.23
Nikita Nicheperovich, DPhil candidate in Languages and Literature, Wadham College, University of Oxford

13:00 – Keynote lecture: Trading partners? Ancient ‘cultural identity’ and the problems of ‘exchange’
Nicholas Purcell FBA, Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford

14:00 – Final discussion

Zeit & Ort

11.02.2021 - 12.02.2021