The Ancient Borderlands International Graduate Student Conference: Conflict, Consensus, and the Crossing of Boundaries in the Premodern World
Sponsored by The Ancient Borderlands Research Focus Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Friday, April 13, 2012 to Sunday, April 15, 2012

University oif California
Santa Barbara, CA
United States

The Ancient Borderlands Research Focus Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara invites graduate scholars of any discipline to submit abstracts for papers addressing the question of ancient borderlands. The conference will be held at the beautiful campus of UCSB, home to the first Ancient Borderlands Research Focus Group.  Limited travel funds may be available for those who cannot procure funding from their home institution.

Borderlands, broadly defined, are spaces where disparate ethnicities, religions, political systems, linguistic traditions, or other ways of life come into close contact and are forced, through constant interaction, to define, maintain, or change their own identities.  Such instances of culture contact can be violent or peaceful, and can revolve around either physical borders or mental categories of difference. The Ancient Borderlands Graduate Conference seeks to apply borderlands theories to such zones of interaction in the ancient world. As the study of borderlands by its very nature fosters an interdisciplinary approach, the conference also aims to include a wide variety of perspectives and specialties. With this in mind we encourage, but do not require, papers that engage with the ideas and themes raised by current borderlands scholars such as Frederick Barth, Daniel Boyarin, Bradley Parker, Gloria Anzaldúa, Thomas Sizgorich, and James Brooks.
Bradley Parker, Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at the University of Utah, will deliver the keynote address. As director of the Upper Tigris Archaeological Research Project, Bradley has directed archaeological excavations and surveys in a remote part of southeastern Turkey for more than a decade. Beyond his field work, Professor Parker has pursued a number of theoretical topics including ancient imperialism and, most relevant for this conference, frontiers. Professor Parker's work on frontiers, which began with his first book "Mechanics of Empire" and culminated with his article "Toward an Understanding of Borderland Processes," laid important ground work for both the incorporation of frontier theory into the field of archaeology and the discussion of frontiers across regional and disciplinary boundaries.

Tentative Panels Include:

•    Divided and Conquered: Imperialism and Resistance as Cultural Interaction
•    Life on the Edge: Heroes, Explorers, and Ethnographers
•    Cities at the Borders, Borders in the City: Material Frameworks and the Urban Environment
•    Open Doors and Limitations: Gender and Sexuality as Identity Makers
•    Purity and Hybridity: Ethnicity and the Construction of Community
•    Between Heaven and Hell: Liminality, Fluidity, and Boundaries in Religious Belief

We particularly welcome papers focusing on the following temporal and geographical areas, although papers with a thematic focus on borderlands in other contexts may also be considered:

•    The Mediterranean world up to the 8th century CE
•    India up through the Huna conquest (5th century CE)
•    Japan through the Nara period (794 CE)
•    China from prehistory through the end of the T’ang Dynasty (907 CE)
•    Southeast Asia up to 1431 CE
•    The Americas up to and including early European contact
•    North Africa through 750 CE
•    Sub-Saharan Africa through the Aksumite Empire (947 CE)

Please send a 500 word abstract to by February 1, 2012 and include “UCSB Ancient Borderlands” in the subject of the e-mail.

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