At the Margins
Interconnections of Power and Identity in the Ancient Near East
October 3-4, 2019
(N.B. Pembroke Hall is labeled “Cogut Institute for the Humanities” on Google Maps)
“At the Margins” is an interdisciplinary conference bringing together scholars studying the Near East and Egypt to rethink the dichotomy between antiquated terms such as “core” and “periphery” and instead to explore lived realities in the margins of central authority. The borderlands of hegemonic entities within these regions pressed against each other creating cities and societies with influence from several competing polities. The peoples, cities, and cultures of these borderlands present a unique lens by which to examine how states controlled and influenced the lives, political systems, and social hierarchies of these subjects (and vice versa). Due to their inherently porous nature, frontier zones are difficult to define and often result in asymmetric encounters between polities. Additionally, the distinct traditions and experiences of areas beyond the core will be explored, for their own sake and their own distinct ways of life. It remains imperative that today’s historians and social scientists understand the ways in which these cultures developed, spread, and interacted with others along frontier edges. Such concepts to be examined are: terminology used when discussing empire, core, periphery, borderlands, and frontiers; conceptualization of space; practices and consequences of warfare, captive-taking and slavery; identity- and secondary state-formation; economy and society; ritual; diplomacy and the negotiation of claims to power.
As an intersectional approach between multiple disciplines, this conference will bring together professionals from archaeology, religious studies, history, sociology, and anthropology to work on new explorations of the frontier. We encourage participants to consider new frameworks for understanding such regions, applying concepts such as practice and identity. Through this conference we aim to open new pathways in research, deepen already existing research, and promote wider collaboration among specialists. Furthermore, this conference will promote study of the ancient world in the field of frontier studies.
Update At the Margins will immediately precede the Egyptology and Assyriology Graduate Conference, also at Brown University, on October 5. Please consider staying an extra day to hear about new research in Egyptology and Assyriology.
Sara is a PhD student in Assyriology. She received her BA with Honors in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2015. She began her doctoral studies at Brown in 2017 and was accepted to the Certificate program in Public Humanities in 2019. She has extensive experience in museum education and outreach with the Oriental Institute, the Field Museum, and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology among others. Her research interests lie in secrecy and hidden objects, digital approaches to studying the cuneiform record, and the intersection between anthropology and Near Eastern studies.
Shane is a fifth year RAM student at Brown University focusing on Israelite Religion within the larger context of Ancient West Asia and Egypt. His research interests include ritual, ritual theory, “frontier studies,” archaeology, and linguistics within Late Bronze and Iron Age Syria-Palestine. He is particularly interested in how sources reflect the political and social hierarchies of the period, drawing heavily upon comparative materials. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Shane holds an MTS from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and an MA in Bible and the Ancient Near East (NEJS) from Brandeis University. He has been a staff member on archaeological digs at Khirbet Summeily and Tel Halif. Shane is currently working on his dissertation on “cultural imperialism” in the Late Bronze and Iron Age Levant, as well as projects on burial in Ancient West Asia and conceptions of Ma’at in the Egyptian controlled Levant. He is a co-organizer of the conference, “At the Margins: Interconnections of Power and Identity in the Ancient Near East” to be held October 3-4, 2019 at Brown University. Shane is also working on a digital humanities and photogrammetry project with the cuneiform tablet collection of the John Hay Library with his Assyriology colleague, Sara Mohr. He works as a proofreader for the digitization project, Brown Judaic Studies Open Book Program and will also be working on the Digital Preservation of the Akkadian Tablets from the Syrian Kingdom of Ugarit project for ORACC.
Christian received his B.A. in Classics from the University of Texas in 2008. His thesis focused on the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor as an exemplar of Middle Egyptian hieratic and on new approaches to the study of Egyptian grammar. From 2008 to 2011, he traveled abroad in order to study modern languages, esp. Egyptian Arabic. He began his Ph.D. program in 2011 in the Department of Egyptology at Brown, specializing in the study of the ancient Egyptian language. In 2013, he was accepted into the Open Graduate Education program as a Master’s student in the Applied Math department. This course of study has enabled him to pursue a variety of research projects, all of which rely on novel computational methods to study the ancient Egyptian language. His dissertation work focuses on codifying the Demotic script, so that data can be collected and used for analysis of Egyptian orthography and phonology to bridge the gap separating our current understanding of Coptic from earlier stages of the Egyptian language.