Work packages

This work package will result in a detailed understanding of imperial social group identities in the empires under study. WP1 concentrates on the core social group identities of these empires, analysing how elites viewed themselves (Team 1, emic perspective) and how that can be understood in terms of Social Identity Approaches and the sociologies of authority and migration policies (Team 2, etic perspective). Each of the empires has left behind legacies of written texts, which enable analysis of the social group identities and lifeways operating within the empires. This work package will not outline a monolithic elite identity for each of these empires. In previous research, too little attention has been directed at the interplay between differing identities within the empires. WP1 pays attention to the way the centre saw the 'margins' (e.g., the so-called Chaldean and Arab tribes), as this implicates how they saw themselves. Overall, WP1 entails an intersectional approach: core and elite identities need to be examined in light of other social group identities such as gender and class. 

Empires cannot exist without marginal regions, therefore understanding them is essential for imperial dynamics. ANEE concentrates on the dynamics of regions that were or became marginal in the shifting political environment. Previous research has discussed marginal areas as examples of imperial laissez faire more than as integral parts of a broader understanding of imperial dynamics. This work package will compare marginal areas and former centres that became marginal, to explore how these local elites interacted with imperial systems differently from those in more central regions (cf. WP1). Beyond the diachronic question of the impact of shifts in imperial centrality, WP2 will seek to understand how the conditions of marginal regions left their own imprints on the legacy of imperial heartlands.

In the first millennium, the political, cultural, and social heartland of empire moved from Mesopotamia to Iran, Macedonia, and then to Rome and Parthia; in various ways, the Transjordan remained a vast frontier zone. While research on these socio-political transitions has begun in the last decades, focus has remained primarily on the cultural production of urban elites, including their writings, art, and prestigious monuments (e.g. the Nabataeans) as well as on evidence of non-local military life. Rural lifeways and living conditions of the common people has on the whole been understudied. This work package focuses on changes in the essential matters of livelihood (e.g., subsistence practices, access to water, change and continuity in religious practices) in rural fringe areas of these empires.

WP4 synthesizes the results of the previous three work packages into a holistic view more useful to ANEE's stakeholders. WPs 1 and 3 establish aspects of social group identities and lifeways in the urban centre and in rural margins. Yet, properly assessing the dialectics between these over the course of a millennium requires additional analysis that can explicitly interrelate the multiple methodologies employed. To make this work package a usable synthesis for all of ANEE's stakeholders, WP4 also includes several impact events to engage the Finnish public, including new migrants to Finland, and local communities in Jordan.