Illuminating Mediterranean Antiquity through Comparative History: Theorising ‘Soft’ Approaches
We are delighted to inform you that the registration for our conference "Illuminating Mediterranean Antiquity through Comparative History: Theorising ‘Soft’ Approaches" (to be held online July 20-21, 2022) is now open.
Please register here: https://forms.office.com/r/kkw8hCj7SZ
After registration, the relevant Zoom link/s will be sent individually
Our goal is a constructive and respectful dialogue between historians of the ancient Mediterranean, delving into the theoretical limits of ‘soft’ comparative approaches (i.e. the use of later/alternative periods to ask new questions of ancient evidence). Although two of the keynote papers will be delivered live, panels will typically kick off with summaries of pre-circulated papers from a respondent, followed by brief responses from the authors, before wider discussion commences. Keynote speakers include Prof. Rachel Mairs (Reading), Prof. Kostas Vlassopoulos (Crete), and Dr. Jingyi Jenny Zhao (Cambridge).
Conference webpage: https://hcmh.haifa.ac.il/2022/07/10/illuminating-mediterranean-antiquity-through-comparative-history-theori-s-ing-soft-approaches/
If you have questions, please get in touch with the organizers:
Dr. Stephen Harrison (Swansea University, [email protected])
Dr. Dylan James (Haifa Center for Mediterranean History, University of Haifa, [email protected]).
"Illuminating Mediterranean Antiquity through Comparative History: Theorising ‘Soft’ Approaches":
In Greek and Roman studies, comparative history has often been seen as inherently anachronistic, doomed to project modern notions onto the ancient past. Such a perspective is increasingly untenable, as the wealth of comparative ancient history in recent decades has borne significant fruit. This methodology tends to fall into two broad categories: a ‘rigorous’ comparative approach, drawing meticulous contrasts and comparisons, typically juxtaposing broadly contemporary or analogous societies (e.g. Rome and China; cf. Mutschler & Mittag 2008; Scheidel 2009; Bang & Kolodziejczyk 2012; Kim et al. 2017; Beck & Vankeerberghen 2021); and a ‘soft’ comparative approach, using alternative material to generate new questions and angles of inquiry, and explore the limits of the possible (on this distinction, see Webster 2008, 107; Joshel & Petersen 2014, 22; Padilla Peralta 2017, 320). Since the bulk of recent volumes have focused on the former approach, this workshop will focus on the latter: how can the fuller documentation available for, and alternative approaches used in, the study of other periods of history illuminate the ancient past?
Ancient slavery studies have led the pack with this approach, asking new questions of ancient evidence informed by rich understanding of the antebellum US South and/or the trans-Atlantic slave trade (see, most recently, Parmenter 2020; Padilla Peralta 2017; Joshel & Petersen 2014; for overviews, Webster 2008; Vlassopoulos 2011). Economic studies have also profited from such generative comparison (Bang 2008) as has demographic work (Vlassopoulos 2014). Other forays into the ‘imaginative enrichment’ of antiquity provided by later history/historiography highlight the potential for greater exploitation of similar approaches (e.g. Bosworth 1996; Bagnall 1997).
Registration link: https://forms.office.com/r/kkw8hCj7SZ