Appropriation: A New Approach to Religion in Antiquity
September 29, 2022
The concept of “appropriation,” developed by the French historian and philosopher Michel de Certeau, describes the everyday tactics with which people on the ground make dominant traditions, ideas and practices their own.
As a term of critical analysis, the notion holds enormous potential for the investigation of everyday social practice and, as a result, it has been a central approach in historical research for several decades. However, despite this potential, the concept has not been applied to the study of the ancient world until quite recently, and then only in piecemeal fashion.
This conference will establish appropriation as a powerful heuristic tool: it will present in-depth micro-historical studies of the myriad ways in which human actors across the ancient Mediterranean, from archaic Greece to late antique Egypt, appropriated dominant religious practices and ideas, which they transformed into something new.
Appropriation allows us to study the creative and dynamic ways in which everyday religious agency unfolds on the ground. But through the study of religious appropriation, we can also better understand the transformation of religion in antiquity, which resulted, we hold, from how individuals, groups and institutions appropriated rituals, religious artifacts and texts, ideas and beliefs.
Thursday, September 29: Keynote Lecture (University of Ottawa, Desmarais Hall, room 12102)
18:00 Welcome and introduction, Her Excellency Sabine Sparwasser, Ambassador of Germany to Canada, and Lori Beaman, Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change, University of Ottawa.
Keynote address, organized in collaboration with the German Embassy and Lori Beaman, by Marian Füssel (University of Göttingen), ‘Appropriation Revisited: The Potential and Challenges of a Critical Term of Historical Research’
19:15-20:30 Wine and cheese reception offered by the German Embassy