Call for Papers: The Persian Empire, the Social Sciences, and Ancient Historiography (Helsinki, 9-11 Jan. 2019)

The workshop "The Persian Empire, the Social Sciences, and Ancient Historiography" takes place at the University of Helsinki 9–11 January 2019. It is co-sponsored by the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions and the Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires.

[Update] Deadline for abstract submissions has been extended to 3 June 2018

Studying the first Persian Empire (550–330 BCE) is both frustratingly immense and too restrictive, with extant evidence often not directly answering the questions we wish to ask of it. For social and cultural dynamics, very careful methodology is necessary to tease out more sophisticated understandings. However, it is no longer sufficient merely to mine existing theory that appears to be adaptable; rather, ancient historians need better integration in the broader social scientific discourse. Therefore, the purpose of this workshop is twofold:

  1. for ancient historians to engage with cutting edge social scientific work and find new, potentially fruitful angles;
  2. to contribute to the development of social scientific theory through the ancient evidence.

The workshop intends to bring together historians and social scientists, to discuss how theory and historical data can be better brought into dialogue—and to explore ideas for potentially fruitful new angles and collaborations.

The keynote speakers will be Prof. Charis Bouteri (Sociology, Paris), Prof. Eve Caroli (Economics, Paris), and Prof. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Political Science, NYU).

Call for papers open

There is now a call for paper proposals for the workshop under the headings of sociology, economics, and political science, each day focuses on two general themes. For the sociology session we invite papers exploring social networks and social authority; for the economics session we invite papers on taxation and forced labor and forced migration; for the political science session we invite papers exploring imperial administration and elite identity.

Each day of the workshop will begin with a keynote lecture with discussion, followed by workshop of pre-circulated papers on the day’s themes, followed by a response and wider thematic discussion. It is our sincere hope that this format will enable as much evidence-based discussion of the theoretical issues as possible, as well as lay some groundwork for future collaboration between historians and social scientists.

Abstracts for 20-30 minute summarized papers should be submitted by 3 June 2018. Please indicate in the abstract the field heading (sociology, economics, or political science) and theme or themes. Abstracts should be submitted in pdf to Accepted proposals will need to submit a draft paper for circulation to workshop participants before 15 December 2018. Abstracts from PhD candidates as well as senior scholars, and both historians and social scientists are warmly welcomed. Since the purpose of the workshop is exploratory and methodological, it is not envisioned that this event will result in an edited volume.