Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Just a quick heads up that the call for papers and panels for the next European Social Science History Conference, to be held at Queen’s Belfast in April 2018, has just been published. Full details for the Antiquity Network, which I co-chair, can be found over at the little-frequented Social Science Ancient History blog (https://socsciah.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/esshc-2018-belfast-call-for-proposals/), so I won’t go into detail here, except to say that this is always a great opportunity to meet not only fellow ancient historians working on topics in economic, social and cultural history, but also to engage with colleagues from all periods and geographical areas. If you have an idea for a panel – and don’t feel that you need to be a senior academic to put together a proposal – then Arjan and I would really like to hear from you; we have a few plans of our own for sessions focused on one or more of the really important books that have been published in our field in the last year or so, but it’s always the variety of themes and debates that makes this such a worthwhile and stimulating occasion, and that depends on you…

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I spent the weekend in Tübingen at a conference organised by John Weisweiler on Debt: the first 3500 years, exploring different aspects of the ideas presented by David Graeber in Debt: the first 5000 years within ancient contexts, from early Babylonia to the early Islamic period; programme can be downloaded here, or follow my attempts at pithy summary on Twitter under #Debt3500. My initial reaction to the idea was that it’s amazing no one had thought of doing this before. It’s not just that Graeber’s book offers some provocative ideas about the roles of debt and money in shaping human relationships (above all, different forms of dependence) that seem well worth exploring in the context of antiquity, but also that the periods we ancient historians are concerned with play a significant role in his overall schema of historical development – this is the Axial Age, in the phrase he borrows from Karl Jaspers, where world-changing intellectual developments went hand in hand with far-reaching economic and social changes, with dramatic implications for everything that then followed up to the slow-motion car crash of contemporary capitalism. (more…)

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I confess: I am @CAConf2015. And yes, I’m afraid I am already married.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I’ve spent the last few days at the UK Classical Association conference, which we were hosting in Bristol; not just introducing speakers and chairing a few sessions, but also running the official conference Twitter feed. This has been a rather strange experience (though not completely new, as I did something similar for the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition last year for the Blackwell-Bristol lectures, and will probably be doing it again at the end of this month). The thinking is presumably that I know the system and style and so can be left to get on with it, but actually I wonder if giving the job to someone new to the whole thing might not be better – it doesn’t need or want someone with experience and confidence, and someone new to the whole thing and hence nervously feeling their way might find it easier to hit the right note, rather than someone like me having to un-learn some habits. Yes, I use Twitter in a relatively formal, work-related capacity, and so what I say there is pretty edited and filtered compared with many, but compared with what’s expected of the official voice of an institution or event, it feels like Hunter S. Thompson-esque stream of consciousness. (more…)

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The next episode of the User’s Guide to Thucydides will be posted by the end of the week, I promise – not least because there may then be a pause as I flee the country for a bit of rest and relaxation before the Classical Association Conference in Bristol after Easter. However, I wanted quickly to jot down a few comments arising from the lecture by Brooke Holmes of Princeton yesterday evening (yes, we’re having a really rich period of intellectual stimulation at the moment, with Liz Irwin a week ago, and coming up on Tuesday is Josephine Crawley Quinn on Carthaginian infant sacrifice).

Brooke’s paper was on the French theorist of the history of science Michel Serres, and his reading of Lucretius’ place in scientific development. In brief, as I understand it, Serres presents Lucretius as having had genuine insights into the true nature of the universe, in a way that we can recognise only today as a result of more recent scientific developments – and at the same time being thoroughly non-modern. (more…)

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11th European Social Science History Conference 2016, Valencia, Spain, 30 March – 2 April 2016

Antiquity network: Call for Papers and Sessions

The ESSHC is a biennial conference that brings together historians and other scholars from across the world who are interested in studying the past using the methods of the social sciences.  The programme is organised around Networks, each of which organises panel sessions (including collaborative sessions with other networks): some of these are period-based, some based on geographical area, and some focused on themes or methods.  You can find further information about the ESSHC on its web page, http://esshc.socialhistory.org/.

The ESSHC has had an Antiquity network since its inception; it has become the main regular forum for discussions of ancient economic and social history, an opportunity to meet scholars from other countries as well as to see what’s happening in other periods and other fields. The network is currently co-chaired by Neville Morley (Bristol) and Arjan Zuiderhoek (Ghent).

We now invite proposals for panel sessions and individual papers for the next meeting of the ESSHC, in Valencia in 2016.  Panel sessions last two hours, and generally involve four (sometimes three) papers on a specific theme, with or without a discussant, and with a chair.  Ideally, panel contributors should come from a mix of countries, and certainly a mix of universities.  We are particularly interested in proposals for inter-disciplinary and comparative panels, on such themes as urbanisation, credit and debt, or poverty and inequality, but we will be happy to discuss any ideas you wish to put forward.  The earlier you contact us, the more advice we’ll be able to offer.

There is also scope for proposing an individual paper, of roughly 20 minutes, if you do not wish to organise a whole panel; if your proposal is accepted, we may put you in touch with the organiser of a relevant session, to see if your paper could be accommodated there, or we may seek to put together a composite panel of individual submissions.  Again, the sooner you contact us to discuss your ideas or submit your proposal, the better.

Two important notes.  Firstly, proposals for both panel sessions and individual papers need to be submitted via the ESSHC website using their online pre-registration form by 1st of May 2015 in order to be considered, even if you have been discussing the idea with us. Panel organisers need to ensure that all participants in their panels have sent in their abstracts and pre-registered by the deadline, with an indication of the name of the session to which their paper belongs. Secondly, the ESSHC does have a relatively substantial conference fee (but with a good discount for postgraduates), and does not have the resources to support travel expenses, so if you’re organising a panel you will need to make sure that all your speakers are aware that they’ll have to cover their own costs.

Once again, please do contact one or both of us if you would like to discuss proposing a paper or a panel.

Arjan (andriesjohan.zuiderhoek@ugent.be) & Neville (n.d.g.morley@bristol.ac.uk)

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In Our Time

Greetings to anyone who’s found their way to this blog as a result of the discussion of Thucydides on Radio 4’s In Our Time this week; for anyone who missed it, listen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050bcf1. It was great fun; yes, we could have done with another hour or so to tease out all the issues, not least so that I could dispute some aspects of Paul Cartledge’s account of Thucydides’ take on politics, but I think we managed to pack quite a lot in. Paul, who’s done the programme loads of times, offered Katherine Harloe and me the advice to forget about the radio audience and just concentrate on the conversation between Melvyn Bragg and the three of us, and that worked – apart from the moment when I suddenly remembered that I’d forgotten to tell my parents about the programme, and that my mother might be one of the people listening, rather more surprised and considerably more annoyed than the average…

If you are a new visitor to this blog, it’s probably worth my noting a couple of things: (i) it isn’t exactly an academic blog, but it is somewhat high-brow at times, not to say pretentious, and some of the posts are really of interest just to people working in higher education; just skip those; (ii) I blog on whatever interests me, including historical theory and ancient economic history, rather than just Thucydides, so just skip things that don’t interest you; (iii) I do tend to take a certain amount of knowledge for granted, e.g. I’m not going to spend time explaining what the Melian Dialogue is – but I do have plans to write a quick User’s Guide to Thucydides for anyone who’s now curious about his work but doesn’t know where to start, so watch this space…

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Might and Right2

Peter Chicken and Angus Whitehorn as the Athenians in the premiere of ‘Might and Right?’, Bristol 10/11/13. Photo (c) Chris Bertram.

As performed by members of Studiospace at Foyle’s, Cabot Circus, Bristol on Sunday 10th November as part of the University of Bristol’s Thinking Futures and Inside Arts festivals of ideas; I hope to find time in the near future to talk a bit about the ideas behind this adaptation.

REPORTER: The state of war has already lasted for more than a decade; even when there has been little open fighting, its effects continued to spread throughout the world. Each superpower seeks to extend its influence in regions of strategic importance – which of course means almost everywhere – and so more and more countries are drawn into the confrontation and forced to choose a side.  The Athenian fleet has arrived now at the small island of Melos, and presented its leaders with a simple ultimatum: surrender your independence, or be destroyed.


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