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 behaviours. Some issues/labels/frameworks we will discuss are:
Martti Nissinen: “Desire, Agency, and Gender in Ancient Near Eastern Love Poetry”
Stephanie Lynn Budin: “The Problem with Prostitution”
Shawna Dolansky: “Interpreting JPFs: A Polysemic & Multivalent Approach”
Cheryl Morgan: “Trans Terminology and the Ancient World”
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. In this session, we consider, for example, the following questions:
Mireia López-Bertran & Agnès Garcia-Ventura: “More than family relations: Lullabies as work songs”
Kateryna Baulina & Yurii Homan: “The role of women in the succession to the throne in the Ancient Near East”
Ana Belén Rumi Gutiérrez: “From daughter and sister to a Ptolemaic queen and divinity. The case study of Arsinoe II Philadelphus”
Solange Ashby: “Ancient African Female Power”
Maura Heyn: “The Ideal Housewife in the Tomb”
Mireia López-Bertran & Meritxell Ferrer: “Intersectionality and beauty in Phoenician-Punic world: a look from the hair”
Introduction by Katrien De Graef
Talk by Jana Matuszak: “Are you a woman?!” Thoughts on how to communicate research on gender in the Ancient Near East to the public.
In this short introduction to the public performance of a Sumerian literary debate between two women staged in November 2020, I will reflect on the challenges and unique opportunities a live performance of an ancient literary composition presents. I will briefly summarise the contents of the text itself, which I recently published, explain how I chose to introduce it to a wider audience, and detail the modes of my collaboration with the artists, the storytellers of the Zipang collective. To conclude, I will comment on what I personally thought was successful and what wasn’t, and present some of the audience feedback I received.
Discussion & drinks
Readings that challenge dominant gender discourse can be pursued from different perspectives. 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 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.
Thais Rocha da Silva: “Gender relations and domestic space in the Amarna Workmen’s Village”
Frances Pinnock: “Houses and Households: Where Were the Women?”
Sophus Helle: “Mesopotamia and Modern Misogyny"
The session discusses network analysis and Digital Humanities tools as applied to cuneiform material. The session also discusses relationships and networks more broadly, including studies on the material culture, such as seals.
Silvana di Paolo: “Women and Seals: Gendered Ideas about Female Roles”
Mrs A: u ze’e munusmen?
Naturally virtuous, respectable and sophisticated, is that you? Eloquent and strategic are your middle names? Bring out that ideal and morally superior housewife and mother (m/v/x) in you with the Mrs A: u ze’e munusmen?
Ninkusu: u ze’e lulumen?
A rough tongue, have you? Thoughtless and erratic as ever? Bring out that incredibly incompetent, wicked and slanderous shrew (m/v/x) in you with the Ninkusu: u ze’e lulumen?
Apollonian, prudent and impartial, is that you? Spice up your solidity and dullness with a pinch of bias and bring out that judgemental King (m/v/x) in you with the Lugalatte!
1) Helsinki (Finland) October 27-28, 2014. Papers presented there (and other papers) were published in "Studying Gender in the Ancient Near East," edited by Saana Svärd and Agnès Garcia-Ventura (2018, Eisenbrauns/Penn State University Press).
2) Barcelona (Spain) in February 1-3, 2017. Papers presented there were published in "Gender and Methodology in the Ancient Near East: Approaches from Assyriology and Beyond," edited by Stephanie Lynn Budin, Megan Cifarelli, Agnès Garcia-Ventura and Adelina Millet Albà (2018, Barcino Monographica Orientalia 10 — Universitat de Barcelona Edicions).
3) Ghent (Belgium) April 8–10, 2019. GeMANE 3 proceedings are in preparation. Editors are (in alphabetical order): Katrien De Graef, Agnès Garcia-Ventura, Anne Goddeeris & Beth Alpert Nakhai. It will be published in the series wEgde of Zaphon.
The event is free of charge, but registration is required. Please register before May 31st 2021. The Zoom link will be sent to registered participants on 1st of June.
Register for the workshop here.
Please address your questions to the email address of the workshop: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scientific and organizing committee of GeMANE 4 in alphabetical order is: Megan Cifarelli, Katrien De Graef, Agnès Garcia-Ventura, Heidi Kovanen, Saana Svärd, and Evelien Vanderstraeten. Svärd has acted as the Chair of the committee.