Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
This seminar investigates the relationship between bodily practices, social performances and production of space, using case studies drawn from ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria. Employing contemporary critical theories on the body, materiality and social practices, new theories of the making of architectural spaces and landscapes will be explored with respect to multiple geographical, historical contexts in the Ancient Near East.
Contemporary discourses on body and performance in cultural studies and social theory have flourished drastically in the last two decades and continue to offer new avenues of research in the social sciences and the humanities. In this seminar, our goal is, on the one hand, to explore these new theoretical writings on embodiment, agency, subjectivity, bodily practices, social performances, spectacles, materiality and spatiality of body. On the other hand, we will review recent archaeological work, historical and literary sources from the ancient Near East, and consider their scholarly interpretations influenced by contemporary discourses. Our task remains to be posing new research questions to the material culture of the ancient Near Eastern world in the light of our theoretical readings and attempt to device alternative approaches in understanding this corpus of archaeological evidence. Reflexively, we will consider how Near Eastern case studies can be used to critique overarching theories of the body, performance and material culture.