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Beyond Borders: Selected Proceedings of the 2010 Ancient Borderlands International Graduate Student Conference

The Ancient Borderlands International Graduate Student Conference strives to bring together work from diverse fields, in order to explore the application of Borderlands Theory to research. The papers presented here are revised versions selected from the 2010 conference “Beyond Borders: Ancient Societies and their Intellectual Frontiers.”

The Ancient Borderlands Research Focus Group, which facilitates and guides the organization of the conference,  unites UCSB faculty and graduate students with common research interests in the history of Mediterranean antiquity, broadly conceived. We are investigating the process by which groups define, create and maintain their identities over time. The creation of boundaries, among ethnic, political, or religious groups, is a dynamic activity that can be reflected, not only by changes in material culture, but also in the rhetorical strategies adopted by ancient authors and the political tactics pursued by those seeking power. As members of several departments, including Classics, History and Religious Studies, we are also interested in challenging the disciplinary boundaries between us, believing that we have much to learn from one another.

Cover page of Introduction

Introduction

(2013)

This is an introduction to Borderlands Theory, as well as a brief overview of the papers included in these proceedings.

Cover page of Nonne gratum habere debuerunt:  Martyrdom as a Spiritual Test in the Luciferian Libellus Precum

Nonne gratum habere debuerunt: Martyrdom as a Spiritual Test in the Luciferian Libellus Precum

(2010)

Looking out from the center, Colin Whiting examines the ways in which a group might conceive of “the other” in their rhetoric. Specifically focusing on the ways in which Christians defined themselves in antiquity, Whiting shows some of the ways in which terms and ideas about previously encountered enemies—Jews and Pagans—were brought forward and used again on groups of other Christians. In Borderlands theory, the maintenance of boundaries and borders is a well-known phenomenon, and it often takes the shape of re-inscribing the rules, and thus redefining the sides of a conflict or interaction. Whiting engages heavily with the work of Daniel Boyarin, and shows the shifting ideas and identities involved in the formation of Christian communities.

Cover page of Urban Enceintes and Roman Identities: an Example from Toulouse

Urban Enceintes and Roman Identities: an Example from Toulouse

(2010)

Working with a physical border, in fact a wall, Douglass Underwood examines the Romanization of Toulouse, through the imposition of civic structures. Using spatial theories, Underwood examines the ways in which the boundaries and borders themselves can even become markers of identity. The Roman identity of the city of Toulouse was imposed by Romans, and the city wall itself, far from being merely a defensive structure, served a more important purpose of sending a message of power. By forcing a Roman identity on the city of Toulouse, over time, it did indeed become a Roman city. This examination problematizes the use of archaeological data, and examines the ways in which people deal with imposed structures.

Cover page of De-Centering the Middle Kingdom: the Argument for Indian Centrality within Chinese Discourses from the 3rd to the 7th Century

De-Centering the Middle Kingdom: the Argument for Indian Centrality within Chinese Discourses from the 3rd to the 7th Century

(2010)

David Jonathan Felt examines the construction of boundaries through a cultural discourse between India and China, mitigated by central Asia, about the conception of spatial constructions of the world. When ideas about the world reached China from India, the Chinese were forced to accommodate the new incoming ideas into their preexisting narratives about the world’s construction. In Borderlands Theory, it is important to remember the idea of permutation, or “fuzzy sets,” in which the reactions to an event or idea will be varied, and fall along a spectrum rather than into distinct and easy categories. Felt makes it clear that the drive to “re-center” the world was but one of many reactions to the new incoming knowledge, and presents an intricate view of Chinese constructions of space and borders.

Cover page of Games of Power: Spectacle in the Aztec and Roman Worlds

Games of Power: Spectacle in the Aztec and Roman Worlds

(2010)

In a cross-cultural, cross-temporal comparison, Ana Mitrovici juxtaposes the ritual games and spectacles of the Romans and the Aztecs. The display of conquered peoples by imperial powers is commonly examined in the light of post-colonial theories about power struggles and identity. In addition, with a spectacle like those examined here, the deliberate injection of peripheral images into the center of power shows the centers construction of power and self-identity very clearly. Using her comparison to show the functions of spectacle in imperial identity formation, Mitrovici highlights some of the uses of violence and display within a borderlands complex.

Cover page of Social Conflict Theory and Matthew’s Polemic against the Pharisees

Social Conflict Theory and Matthew’s Polemic against the Pharisees

(2010)

Utilizing sociological theories about conflict and the formation and change of identity, Thomas C. Fraatz turns to biblical polemic in order to show the creation of boundaries within the early Christian community. When examining the interactions of social groups, Borderlands Theorists are prone to point out the ways in which people use rhetoric to characterize the Other. In his examination of the Gospel of Matthew, Fraatz engages heavily with the works of Borderlands scholars Daniel Boyarin and Thomas Sizgorich to describe how the author of Matthew was trying to link, through the deliberate construction of narratives, the persecution and death of Jesus at the hands of Pharisees with the persecution and supposed eventual death of his own community at the hands of a current Pharisaic community. By making this link explicit, Matthew also helps to construct and reinforce the border between these two social groups, and simultaneously changes the perceived definition of both sides.

Cover page of The Martyr as Homo Sacer: Toward a New Hermeneutic of Religious                         Violence

The Martyr as Homo Sacer: Toward a New Hermeneutic of Religious Violence

(2010)

Suggesting a strong, if not symbiotic relationship between religious narrative and the use of violence, Matt Recla examines this diabolical dichotomy. Engaging heavily with Sizgorich and Boyarin, Recla shows how the ambiguity of boundaries becomes useful as it provides for the experimentation with and reintegration of cultural ideas and traditions within religious groups. The study of narratives is essential to an examination of a borderland complex, as so often the establishment of borders between groups begins with and is maintained by the use of rhetoric. Focusing on the ways in which individuals and groups interacted with the narrative of martyrdom, Recla gives us an important examination of the inextricable bonds between violence and belief.

Cover page of The Flavian Triumph and the Arch of Titus: The Jewish God in Flavian Rome

The Flavian Triumph and the Arch of Titus: The Jewish God in Flavian Rome

(2010)

In 70 CE the Roman forces besieging Jerusalem gained control of the city and destroyed the Jewish temple. The emperor Vespasian (r. 69 CE – 79 CE) and his son Titus (r. 79 CE – 81 CE), who served as general at the siege, were awarded a joint triumph to celebrate the victory over the Jews in Judaea. Celebrated in 71 CE, the Flavian triumph is described by the Jewish historian, Josephus (37 CE – c. 100 CE), who may have been an eye witness to the procession. This same triumphal procession is depicted on a monument known as the Arch of Titus, located on the Via Sacra in Rome. It was probably dedicated around 81, early in the reign of Domitian (r. 81 CE – 96 CE), brother and heir to Titus. In this paper I investigate the ways that ritual and monument bring the Jewish god from the edge of the empire into the imperial capital, and how ritual and monument construct a Flavian dynastic identity.

Cover page of Carthage, Corinth, & 146 BCE: Shifting Paradigms of Roman Imperium

Carthage, Corinth, & 146 BCE: Shifting Paradigms of Roman Imperium

(2010)

Sarah Davies leads us through an examination of the conceptual boundary of Roman imperium, and changes brought to Rome by the establishment of Roman military authority in Carthage and Corinth. As the expansion of the Republic attained a sort of critical mass, feedback from the frontiers brought change to the center. In Borderlands Theory, the idea that the inscription of the borderland itself begins the process of change is a fundamental concept. Engaging heavily with core-periphery models, and studies of ethnic change in the Hellenistic world, Davies examines the rhetoric of the center, in order to understand how Rome was able to cope with its new status and imperial boundaries as it renegotiated its own identity in the Mediterranean world. Likewise, Davies also makes explicit the link between the internal transformation of the conceptual boundary, defined by the Roman idea of imperium, and the real political ramifications of the year 146 BCE.