CfP: Fourth Work­shop on Gender, Meth­od­o­logy and the Ancient Near East (#Ge­MANE4_Hel­sinki)

16.12.2020
The Fourth Workshop on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East (#GeMANE4_Helsinki) will take place 3-4 June 2021 as a virtual event at the University of Helsinki, hosted by the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires (#ANEE_Helsinki).

We invite proposals for short 5 minute presentations, which could be called “oral posters.” The length of the proposals should be 150-200 words. Deadline for proposals is 31 January 2021. The link to the form where you can submit your proposal is here. In the form you will be asked to identify the panel you are applying to. Participants will be notified of acceptance by the end of February. 

As previously, the aim of the workshop is to discuss different methodological and theoretical approaches to gender within the framework of ancient Near Eastern studies. The scope of the workshop includes textual, art historical and archaeological approaches, (including neighboring disciplines) as long as the work contributes new insights into the study of gender in the ancient Near East. Because this is a virtual workshop, we have planned things differently this year. We are organizing four panels, according to the timetable below (Helsinki times):

3 June 4 pm-5.30 pm “Labels and their impact on the present and future of gender research” chaired by Omar N’Shea and Allison K. Thomason

3 June 6 pm-7.30pm “Gender, Family Relations, and Intersectionality” chaired by Kristine Garroway and Brigitte Lion

4 June 4 pm-5.30 pm “Reading against the grain” chaired by Ann Guinan and Laura Mazow

4 June 6 pm-7.30pm “Digital Humanities Approaches to Gender Studies” chaired by Amy Gansell and Niek Veldhuis

A more concrete description of the sessions can be found below. Each session will consist of small five minute addresses and discussion and will be steered by two chairs/moderators. One of the chairs will start, to set the tone. This is followed by 5-6 addresses, followed by a concluding 5 minute address by one of the chairs. The panel concludes with general discussion, moderated by the chairs. Please note that because the addresses are so short, the details of the work can (and should) be presented in PowerPoints/handouts/other material which will be made available in the workshop web pages before the workshop.

Please address your questions to the email address of the workshop: gemane4.helsinki@gmail.com.

Descriptions of sessions
 

3 June 4pm-5.30 pm “Labels and their impact on the present and future of gender research” chaired by Omar N’Shea and Allison K. Thomason

The choice of labels we use in our research is always significant. For each research project, we need to decide whether (and why) we use words like homosexuality, homoeroticism, heterosexuality, androgyny, third gender and even men/women, masculine/feminine to describe categories of gendered and sexual identities and behaviors. Some issues/labels/frameworks to discuss:

  • How do the "labels"/definitions that we use already limit, expand or direct our research?
  • How and when do we use anachronism? Which are the potentialities and the limits of this practice?
  • How does studying gender/intersectionality in the past relate to these issues in the present?
  • What are the challenges and possibilities of using dichotomies/binaries? 

3 June 6 pm-7.30pm “Gender, Family Relations, and Intersectionality” chaired by Brigitte Lion and Kristine Garroway

Western family roles have had a great impact on the way people looked at women and men in ancient communities. The role of women within families has often dominated discussions about their identities, but intersectionality allows us to understand better the complexity of unstable and variable identities. We invite you to consider, for example, the following questions:

  • How can we study gender in the past without imposing norms and assumptions from the present?
  • How are roles/identities defined, and who defines them?
  • How can we consider the interaction of gender, sex, age, biological relationships, class, and other affiliations in the construction of gendered identities?
  • What are some of the challenges and possibilities of using an intersectional approach to the study of gender in the Ancient Near East?

4 June ; 4pm-5.30 pm “Reading against the grain” chaired by Ann Guinan and Laura Mazow

Readings that challenge dominant gender discourse can be pursued from different perspectives.  The organizers of this panel offer the following suggestions, but invite other submissions inspired by this topic.

One of the key challenges when studying gender in the ancient Near East is to recognize and counter readings of texts and interpretations of artifacts that have been shaped by the dominant discourses of contemporary culture and unwittingly imposed on the material by modern scholars. Traditionally, the most common and widely-accepted interpretations have favored a hegemonic—male, heterosexual, white—and Western point of view. However, the difference in cultural context that exists between the scholar and the ancient populations we study has often resulted in projections, distortions, and misinterpretations of our sources. While recognizing that we cannot pursue an emic perspective, we propose opening discussion to a larger diversity of viewpoints and evolving theories of gender. Such approaches may bring us closer to a more accurate reconstruction of the material remains and a broader, more nuanced understanding of the ancient texts.

We also invite contributions that reflect on whether we can detect subversive voices in ancient texts and visual arts, in other words artefacts that challenge the dominant discourses or the power practices of their time. This can take the form of explicit dissent, but also of more subtle discursive tensions within the texts, such as internal incoherence or significant silences.

  • How can we challenge prevailing views?
  • What tools can we use to read against the grain of our sources?
  • How can we challenge dominant cultural values and beliefs and reject the position the data appears to offer?
  • How can we engage in alternative or resistant readings of texts, artefacts, and archaeological data?
  • How can this add to the study of gender in the ancient Near East?

4 June ; 6 pm-7.30pm “Digital Humanities Approaches to Gender Studies” chaired by Amy Gansell and Niek Veldhuis

New approaches to digital humanities offer new possibilities for gender studies as well. We invite you to consider, for example, the following topics:

  • What kind of questions can we now ask from our data with these new tools?
  • What has been already achieved through these strategies?
  • What kind of directions could be imagined for future research?
  • What are the potential pitfalls we should be aware of?