Research Group

fellow

Nir Avieli

FELLOW
Ben-Gurion University
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Prof. Nir Avieli is a cultural anthropologist. Avieli has been conducting ethnographic research in Vietnam since the late 1990’s, focusing on food and foodways. Within the research group he will expand the scope of his research on animals in contemporary Vietnamese society in several directions. He will further explore the social categorization of the edible and inedible in Vietnam and the social and cultural contexts that allow and even enhance transgression of prohibitions and taboos relating to animal meat, emphasizing the role played by age and gender in such processes and contexts. He will study the changing cultural meanings and social positions of water buffaloes, a central pillar of traditional Vietnamese farming and farming society, vis-a-vis agricultural modernization. He will explore the changing trends regarding animals in the domestic sphere in contemporary Vietnam and the shift from “decorative animals” (such golden fish and songbirds) to pets, mainly dogs and cats. He will also investigate continuity and change in rituals that involve dragons and unicorns, mythical animals that materialize in various ways in contemporary ritual.

 

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Gideon Shelach-Lavi

Gideon Shelach-Lavi

FELLOW
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Prof. Shelach-Lavi is an archaeologist who specialized in the Neolithic and Bronze Age of North China. His project will focus on the process of animal domestication in north China and how this fundamental process shaped the nature of human-animal relations. On one level, this research addresses the interdependency that was forged between humans and animals in this region. On another level, through the examination of the depiction of animals in prehistoric art, the treatment of animals in ritualistic contexts, and in written sources (such as the Oracle Bones documents) it will also address the formation of animal categorization by human and the powers and supernatural traits attributed to animals by different societies in North China during the Neolithic and Bronze Age (c. 6000-500 BCE). The work of Prof. Shelach-Lavi will contribute to our group by broadening our chronological scope to include the prehistoric and protohistoric periods, and by addressing the formative period in the development of animal-human relations in the Sinitic world.

 

Read more about Prof. Shelach-Lavi here.

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The Concept of Urban Change

[RG #116] The Concept of Urban Change

September 1, 2008 - August 31, 2009

Organizers:

Ronnie Ellenblum (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Gideon Avni (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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The past fifty years have witnessed significant development in the study of the structure of urban centers. Dozens of cities in a variety of geographic regions and cultural environments have been studied, and their shape and society reconstructed.

Concurrently, the disciplines of urban archaeology, urban geography and urban history were defined and developed, enabling an integrated study of historical sources, archaeological remains and the analysis of geographic, architectural and regional data.

However, the theoretical interpretation of ancient and historic cities is still conditioned by the chronological and sociological paradigms established as far back as the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus, for instance, the classification of cities into Eastern, i.e. "Oriental/Muslim/Middle or Far-Eastern" cities as opposed to "Occidental", i.e. European and North American ones is based, to a large extent, on the 19th century's neo-classical interpretation of historical economy. The accepted periodization of urban history into "Biblical", "Greek", "Roman", "Medieval" or "Early Modern" periods also reflects the ideologies, theologies and identities that created them. In many cases they are culturally or ethnically conditioned and cannot be justified outside of the specific culture that created them. Urban history is sufficiently complex and continuous to sustain different cultural definitions and different types of biased periodizations. As a result, the characterization of specifically defined types of cities such as "Muslim", "Medieval" or "greek" cities became almost self-evident, and the terms themselves, let alone the periodization that created them, was rarely contested.

In light of these conceptual paradigms, our research group will examine the processes of cultural, political, social and religious changes in both past and contemporary urban contexts. Adopting a multidisciplinary apprach and a wide chronological range, the members of the group will address an array of changes in urban structures, such as the formation of new centers of political might, structural changes of the public spaces, the creation of architectural icons, and the expansion and collapse of urban tissues, all in relation to major political, cultural and religious changes.

 

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Contesting Liberal Citizenship: New Debates and Alternative Forms of Democracy and State Power in Latin America

[RG #117] Contesting Liberal Citizenship: New Debates and Alternative Forms of Democracy and State Power in Latin America

March 1 - August 31, 2009

Organizers:

Mario Sznaider (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Luis Roniger (Wake Forest University)

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The goal of our research group is to examine the changing context of procedural, representative and liberal democracy in Latin America, analyze the contesting modes of democracy that have crystallized in the region, and evaluate their implications for a redefinition of citizenship models and alliances.

Latin America has long been a laboratory for comparative research. With its 20 independent polities, it provides a shared ground for systematic analysis into the resilience or breakdown of formal democracy against the background of contesting models of citizenship.

While in the days of the Cold War these models were relatively clear-cut and impacted on the region, generating the contrasting projects of reform and revolution, in the last two decades Latin America has witnessed both a renewal of democracy and the diversification of democratic experiments. The international presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the election of an indigenous president in Bolivia and female presidents in Chile and Argentina, and recent policy decisions in Cuba, reflect the profound changes these countries have undergone, raising questions that are of far more than just regional interest.

Our research group brings together experts on various dimensions of citizenship in Latin America with a record in comparative research to reflect on the challenges affeting liberal democracies, as derived from the shift from corporatist to neo-liberal citizenship regimes; the increasing recognition of group rights and multiculturalism, evident with the potent rise of new indigenous movements; the emergence of participatory forms of anti-politics in situations of policy ineffectiveness and institutional collapse; the increasing use of plebiscitary democracy as a means of attaining political legitimacy; and the persistent challenge of mass citizen mobilization to existing forms of limited democracy.

 

 

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Ancient Arabia (from 1st Millennium BCE to the Emergence of Islam) and its Relations with the Surrounding Cultures

[RG # 118] Ancient Arabia (from the 1st Millennium BCE to the Emergence of Islam) and its Relations with the Surrounding Cultures

September 1, 2009 - July 31, 2010

Organizers:

Joseph Patrich (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Michael Lecker (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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Arabia (the Arabian Peninsula) may no longer be terra incognita, but many aspects of its history remain unknown. The study of the history and culture of this territory is still in its infancy. One of the difficulties in properly evaluating the historical evidence about the ancient Near East is that modern Europeans or westerners approaching it inevitably do it with a host of confused and half-formed preconceptions about the "Orient", as Fergus Millar has noted in his book The Roman Near East 31 BC - AD 337.

In the last three decades an ever growing amount of new archaeological data, including a wealth of new inscriptions in many languages and scripts (Akkadian, Aramaic, Nabataean and South Arabian) has been gathered from sites in Saudi Arabia, the Yemen, the Persian Gulf, Sinai, the Negev, Jordan and Syria, as well as from sites of the cultures bordering with Arabia. Moreover, many texts in classical Arabic are now more accessible than ever before through various electronic media.

The group will evaluate the state of our knowledge about Arabia and the prospects for future research.

 

 

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Encountering Scripture In Overlapping Cultures: Early Jewish, Christian And Muslim Strategies Of Reading And Their Contemporary Implications

[RG #121] Encountering Scripture In Overlapping Cultures: Early Jewish, Christian And Muslim Strategies Of Reading And Their Contemporary Implications

September 1, 2010 - February 28, 2011

Organizers:

Meir Bar-Asher (The Hebrew University)
Mordechai Cohen (Yeshiva University)

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Contemporary critical theory, which highlights the creative dimension of the reading process, is increasingly reorienting the study of the history of scriptural interpretation, situating it within the flux of literary and cultural movements at large. This international research group brings together scholars of Jewish, Christian and Muslim interpretation to conduct a close comparative analysis of shifting encounters with Scripture in three overlapping cultures. Drawing upon diverse yet complimentary perspectives, the participants in this group will investigate five fundamental subjects:

a. The critical role that interpretation played in the formation of Sacred Scripture;

b. Changing conceptions of the "plain sense" of Scripture;

c. The ways in which classical rhetoric and poetics informed scriptural interpretation;

d. Tensions created by the need to transplant Scripture into new linguistic media;

e. The ways in which the Bible has been reconfigured in literature, art and scholarship.

 

 

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