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Political space in ancient times: representation, description, transformation

L’espace politique dans les sciences de l’Antiquité : représentation, description, transformation

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Published on Friday, August 25, 2023

Abstract

This conference aims to develop a reflection on the links between space and politics in ancient times, using an interdisciplinary approach. While archaeologists and historians have been interested in the ways in which space can be a political object, what is missing is a general reflection that would show the contribution of a spatial approach to politics in Classics. To renew our thinking on political space, we will compare the practices of archaeology, whose field of study is resolutely linked to space, and history, whose approach is often more political, with those of literature and philology, which have also seized on space as a methodological tool.

 

Announcement

Call for contribution - Conference held 3st-5th April 2023 - Université Toulouse 2 Jean Jaurès

Argument

Space has been of crucial importance in the field of human sciences for several decades now, particularly since the theoretical approach named “spatial turn”, based on the work of Edward Soja (Soja, 1989). This turn entails seeing space not as a fixed, immobile backdrop, but as a productive element which influence the way people think. This position can be summed up as follows:

“What if knowledge in general has an irremediably local dimension? What if it possesses its shape, meaning, reference, and domain of application by virtue of the physical, social, and cultural circumstances in which it is made, and in which it is used?” (Ophir & Shapin, 1991, p. 4)

On the basis of this reflection, space is understood in the human sciences in different ways. Christian Jacob (Jacob 2014) identifies two ways of dealing with this notion. Firstly, space as such is the source of the scientific process; it is therefore necessary to study the concrete effects that people have on their space (landscape changes, agriculture, transport routes, etc.) Secondly, the notion of space can be used, according to Christian Jacob, as an analytical tool in other fields of knowledge. Here, space is used metaphorically and becomes a heurisctic datum that reveals certain trends. Historical events are also understood in terms of the importance of space (Jacob, 2007) and, in literature, narrative can be analysed in terms of space, not only temporality (De Jong, 2012).

This conference will be a good opportunity to take a closer look at the links between space and politics in ancient times, by combining the approaches of the various disciplines in the Ancient Sciences. The way in which power occupies space, especially urban space, has long interested archaeologists and historians; the “L’urbs, espace urbain et histoire” symposium, held at the École française de Rome in 1987, was the starting point for very fruitful approaches, which are summarised in a recent publication (Courrier, 2022). More recently, historians and archaeologists have also been interested in the various ways in which space can be a political object, through festivals and spectacles (Benoist, 1999), collective memory (Benoist, 2016), and representations of landscape (McInerney & Sluiter, 2016). In literature as well, the spatial turn has led to an interest in space, particularly from a narratological perspective (De Jong, 2012; Kirstein, 2019).

Nevertheless, there has not been yet a general reflection which would show what brings a spatial approach of politics in the Ancient Sciences. In order to renew our thinking on political space, we will compare the practices of archaeology, whose field of study is linked to space, and history, whose approach is often more political, with also literature and philology, which have also seized on space as methodological tool. We propose that participants consider the term ‘politics’ in all its semantic possibilities. It can be, for instance, considered in its old sense of ‘organisation of society’; it can also be considered as ‘institutional organisation’, particularly in the exercise of power (Montlahuc, 2020). These two meaning are, of course, closely related and not mutually exclusive.

Papers may address the following topics:

  • Relations between space and power (representation of space by power, manipulation of space by power, etc.)
  • Can the city, as a social construct, can be understood through space?
  • Nature, landscape, politics
  • Relations between territory and identity
  • Control over space, taking power over space
  • Movement organisation in the political space
  • Tension between centre and periphery
  • Border, crossing the border
  • Embodiment of power in a specific place

Submission guidelines

This “Jeunes Chercheurs” conference is intended for doctoral students and researchers who have completed their thesis within the last three years. Please send your proposals (no more than 600 words) and a short bibliography conjointly to:

  • irene.marechal@univ-tlse2.fr 
  • florian.racine@univ-tlse2.fr

before October 9th, 2023.

A scientific committee will be in charge of selecting the proposals. Answers will be given on October 23.

Reading committee

  • Charles Davoine (UT2J - PLH)
  • Adeline Grand-Clément (UT2J - PLH)
  • Valérie Visa-Ondarçuhu (UT2J - PLH)

Bibliography

  • Benoist, S., 1999, La fête à Rome au premier siècle de l'Empire : Recherches sur l'univers festif sous les règnes d'Auguste et des Julio-Claudiens, Bruxelles.
  • Benoist, S., Daguet-Gagey, A., Hoët-van Cauwenberghe, C., éds., 2016, Une mémoire en actes. Espaces, figures et discours dans le monde romain, rencontre internationale, Lille, 27-28 septembre 2013, Villeneuve-d’Ascq.
  • Courrier, C., Guilhembet, J-P., Laubry, N., Palombi, D., éds., 2022, Rome, archéologie et histoire urbaine. Trente an après L’urbs, Rome.
  • De Jong, I.J.F., éd., 2012, Space in ancient Greek literature, Leiden.
  • Jacob, C., 2007, Lieux de savoir. 1. Espaces et communautés, Paris.
  • Jacob, C., 2014, « Spatial turn », dans Qu’est-ce qu’un lieu de savoir, Marseille.
  • Kirstein, R., 2019, « An Introduction to the Concept of Space in Classical Epic », dans : S. Finkmann, C. Reitz, Structures of Epic Poetry, vol. 2, p.245-59, Berlin.
  • McInerney, J. et Sluiter, I., éds., 2016, Valuing landscape in classical Antiquity: natural environment and cultural imagination, Leiden
  • Montlahuc, P., 2020, « L’histoire romaine et le politique : complément d’enquête », Anabases, 32, p. 11-29.
  • Ophir, A. et S. Shapin, 1991, « The Place of Knowledge, A Methodological Survey », Science in Context, 4, 1, p. 3‑22.
  • Soja, E.W., 1989, Postmodern geographies: the reassertion of space in critical social theory, London.

Places

  • 5 Allée Antonio Machado
    Toulouse, France (31058 CEDEX 9)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Monday, October 09, 2023

Keywords

  • espace, politique, spatial turn, pouvoir, paysage, territoire,

Contact(s)

  • Irène Maréchal
    courriel : irene [dot] marechal [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Florian Racine
    courriel : florian [dot] racine [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Political space in ancient times: representation, description, transformation », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, August 25, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1bn4

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