AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 22-25, 2014
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This program unit focused on Late Antiquity in the East aims to provide a home for the study of religious traditions that are rooted in Mesopotamia, Persia, and western Asia, particularly those parts that were outside the Roman cultural reach such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Mandaeism. While the group will focus on late antiquity, many of these traditions, and particularly their extant texts come to us from much later periods, and this scholarly issue will be part of our discussions. In addition, many of the traditions that were born in this time and place also spread to other parts of the world, and the study of them in those forms and contexts also has a place within this program unit, as does investigation of their response to the rise of Islam in the region. In addition, this group’s focus is not exclusively on those traditions that developed uniquely in this region, but also those which, when transplanted there, had significant evolutions in that milieu that differ from their counterparts in other times and places (e.g. Christianity, Judaism). We likewise encourage research which focuses on the interaction between the various communities and traditions of this place and time.
For its inaugural year, the group is issuing an open call for papers on any topic within the boundaries of the program unit. However, proposals are especially welcome on the subject of urban life and religious community in Eastern Late Antiquity. What do we know about how religiously-defined communities congregated (or not) in the big urban centers of the late antique east? How did they relate (or not) to cities, the other people that lived there and the folks that governed them? What do we know about, and what can we learn from, the study of traditions which thrived solely or primarily in urban (or rural) areas, and from the comparison of sources and material evidence related to those traditions which spanned the urban-rural divide?