Memory and Identity Working Group
"Monuments of resistance: Gurgum and the Assyrian conquest"
Dr. Lynn Swartz Dodd, University of Southern California
September 2, 4:00-6:00 PM, Barrows Hall Room 254
Sponsored by the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and the
Near Eastern Studies Department
The Memory and Identity Working Group
The 2009-2010 Memory and Identity working group will examine how
memory and identity mediate the production of social imaginaries in
past and contemporary societies. Disciplines across the academy
recognize how individual and collective imaginations are sources of
new cultural forms and modes of being. Much research has concentrated
on the social imaginaries of contemporary societies, that is, how they
envision their social milieu and the relationships that structure
them. Upon becoming broadly shared, these imaginaries have motivated
new collective practices such as democracy, immigration, and
religion. The works of Benedict Anderson, and more recently, Charles
Taylor, have charted how new modes of cultural distribution, print
media, and television, for example, disseminate imaginaries to groups
not engaged in face-to-face relationships. While the modes and
intensity through which these visions circulate are new, their
production is not. Rather, social imaginaries appeared long before
the advent of modernity.
Despite the antiquity of this practice, our knowledge of the
production of modern iterations cannot merely be applied to past
societies, a point from which working group participants disembark.
The social imaginaries of past societies were disseminated through
different modes and varied in intensity and homogeneity. Oral
communication and face-to-face relationships dominated while the
circulation of texts was often limited to literate elites.
Participants will therefore investigate discrete iterations of past
social imaginaries in the Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds,
paying particular attention to the ways that such visions were
prescribed overtly and covertly in the material record – text-
artifacts, architecture, and objects. In these regions, the most
salient social imaginaries (e.g., Hellenism, Christianity, Islam)
prescribed social orders and dictated ideologies that often co-
occurred with political and economic expansion. The working group will
focus its attention on less studied instances in these and other
regions. Additionally, social imaginaries in other past as well as
contemporary societies will be examined for comparative purposes.
If you have any questions, are interested in being placed on our
mailing list, or finding out ways to become more involved in the
group, please contact Dr. Benjamin Porter at bwporter@...
Jean Li, C.Phil.
Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Department of Near Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
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