12 avr 2024
13:15  - 16:45

Rosshof, Tagungsraum 306

Basel Doctoral Program in Ancient Civilizations (DBAW), Organizers: Elena Luise Hertel, Anne-Sophie Meyer

Events, Colloquium, Workshop

Research Seminar "Crisis and Trauma in Ancient Cultures" Part II

For PhD Candidates and (MA) Students, organized by the Department of Ancient Civilizations

Plakat Veranstaltung

In addition to doctoral students, interested MA students (and advanced BA students by arrangement) are also welcome in the seminar; questions about module allocation for MA and BA students can be addressed to anne-sophie.meyer@clutterunibas.ch.

Crisis is a universal topic that can affect all cultures of the world, at different times and in various contexts. On a socio-political level, a crisis can reveal weaknesses in a system and even lead to the collapse of systems such as forms of government or social organization. At the same, a crisis can enforce quick action and as such act as a catalyst for innovation. As such, the study of crisis reveals the strengths and adaptability of societies and provides an opportunity to gain insight into the stability of their organisational systems.
In ancient societies, the study of crisis presents several challenges but also a great potential for understanding cultural developments. The goal of this class is to discuss how we can approach these challenges and make use of the bird’s eye view of a modern observer, which allows us to study societies before, during, and after catastrophic events and extended periods of crisis to gain a better understanding of the dynamic of these societies’ functionality. In order to not only focus on a distant perspective but to take the human experience of crisis into account, we plan to combine this with the topic of trauma, to be discussed both on a collective and – where the sources allow it – on an individual basis.
Particular attention will be paid to:
• Recognising crisis in ancient cultures: natural disasters and environmental change in the archaeological record; interpreting first-hand accounts of traumatic events.
• Crisis management: immediate responses to destabilising situations (e.g. construction activity, increased/decreased religious activity, ...)
• Resilience: the ability of a society to absorb shocks without fundamentally changing its structure.
• Collective trauma, personal trauma: responses of societies and individuals to deal with the psychological effects of traumatic events, visible in written sources (e.g. crisis literature, philosophy) and material culture (e.g. changes in art).
• Collapse or change? How to interpret signs of cultural change according to current methodological models
Suggestions for specific topics for discussion:
• The volcano eruption of Akrotiri and the collapse of palatial structures in Bronze Age Crete
• The volcano eruption of Pompeii and its reception
• The 'Sea Peoples' event and its impact on the Bronze Age Aegean
• Catastrophic natural events in antiquity (e.g. floods, earthquakes, droughts)
• Responses to civil war and social instability in ancient literature (Egyptian, Latin, Greek...)
• Ancient theoretical approaches and responses to (natural) disasters (e.g. through religion, philosophy, consolation literature)
• Theory: Societal collapse and resilience theory
• Theory: The concept of crisis literature
• Theory: Changes in art in response to the crisis

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