Ra’anan Boustan, Princeton University
Karen Britt, University of Louisville
David Frankfurter, Boston University
Gregg Gardner, University of British Columbia
Gil Klein, Loyola Marymount University
Karen Stern, Archaeological Institute of America
Michael Swartz, Ohio State University
Moulie Vidas, Princeton University
Over the past few decades, attention to things, material practices, and materiality has moved beyond the confines of those disciplines that have long studied material culture (e.g., archaeology and art history) to the very center of academic inquiry across the Humanities and Social Sciences. Objects and their constituent materials are studied alongside their larger landscapes and built environments, the bodily practices and disciplines that produced them, and the sensory regimes and perceptual schemes in which they were embedded.
This two-day conference brings together scholars from across a range of disciplines to consider how people in the ancient Mediterranean world, Jews among them, related both to matter itself and to issues of materiality. How did they conceptualize the relationships between word and thing, language and action, text and artifact? How did they sense, understand, and construct material entities such as quotidian or sacred artifacts, human or divine bodies, built or natural environments, and so on? How did non-Jews perceive or represent the relationships between Jews and matter? Finally, how has the history of Jews and matter been reconstructed in modern scholarship and how might scholars approach the nexus of Jews and the material more productively? Presentations explore the profound interconnectedness within ancient (Jewish) culture among things, space, and embodiment, and will place these in dialogue with the signifying practices that are essential to cultural (and other kinds of) production.