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CALL. 15.12.2019: [PANEL 1] Near Eastern Weltanschauungen in Contact and in Contrast: Rethinking the




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Westend Campus (Frankfurt, Germany) - Philosophicum building, University Campus (Mainz, Germany)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Marta Pallavidini (Freie Universität Berlin); Ludovico Portuese (Freie Universität Berlin)



We call for papers for the organization of a workshop that investigates the terms “Ideology” and “Propaganda” in the Ancient Near East. The proposal together with the selected abstracts will be submitted to the Organizing Committee of the 66e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, “Cultural Contact – Cultures of Contact” (Kultur–Kontakt–Kultur), which will take place in Frankfurt am Main & Mainz, July 20 – 24, 2020. Near Eastern Weltanschauungen in Contact and in Contrast: Rethinking the Terms Ideology and Propaganda

In the light of the multicultural world of the Ancient Near East, the Weltanschauungen or “ideologies” are extremely multifaceted and, at times, they are in contact and/or in contrast: interactions and mechanisms that can be fully understood through an (re-)examination of the terms “ideology” and “propaganda”. The workshop aims at examining and pondering these terms applied to the history of the Ancient Near East in historic and modern scholarship, with regard to social or cultural groups, kingdoms, or empires. These terms and ideas mostly have a Eurocentric or Western-centric origin. Arguably, these are in many cases inadequate and should be revised. According to Marxist thinkers, “Ideology” was understood in its pejorative meaning, namely a strategy deployed by political elites to influence social behaviour, to disguise social and economic stratification, and to serve the integration of different social groups (B. Pongratz-Leisten, Religion and Ideology in Assyria, 2015, 23). Concerning the term “Propaganda”, the issue becomes more complex.

“Propaganda” adds purpose to an ideology: it disseminates ideology to convince, shape, and alter the other’s ideology. In some contexts and ages, the word loses its neutrality and later usages have added a tone that implies a negative and deceitful message. This term has developed a spectrum of meanings in contemporary scholarly discussion on the Ancient Near East. A number of scholars makes use of the term (K. Sano, Die Repräsentation der Königsherrschaft in neuassyrischer Zeit Ideologie, Propaganda und Adressaten der Königsinschriften, 2016, 215-236; M. Karlsson, Relations of Power in Early Neo-Assyrian State Ideology, 2016, 18), while a smaller group of academics have pondered and questioned the issue of propaganda in Near Eastern studies (D. Bonatz, Funktionen des Bildes in Altvorderasien, 2011, 287-307; Pongratz-Leisten, Religion and Ideology in Assyria, 2015, 28: 130). Most often, both terms have been overused to describe the materialization of ideas or the strategies of assertion through which a social or cultural group, a kingdom or an empire, represented itself to the world. The latter mechanism is the last step of a process that begins from the subject’s self-perception or self-reflection to the perception of “the other” as antagonist. In this sense, such a concept entails that any individual or group defined itself and constructed its identity in relation to “the other”. Therefore, any ideological and propagandistic tool requires a recipient or audience, the identity of which is essential to understand the Weltanschauung (worldview) of the dominating group. The focus of this workshop is therefore on Near Eastern textual, visual, and archaeological evidence from the fourth to the first millennium BCE that have been evaluated as ideological and propagandistic tool used to encounter and communicate with “the other”. Additionally, this workshop fosters analyses that examine the cultural consequences of this contact or contrast and to what extent it initiates a process of self-perception or self-reflection. We are welcoming abstracts from scholars of the Ancient Near Eastern Studies. An abstract of 200-400 words should be sent to the organizers of the workshop before the December 15 deadline. The abstract should outline both topic and methodology. The papers should last no more than 20 minutes, but a further 10 minutes will be devoted for discussion.

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