Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Theory and Method in Byzantine Archaeology

Bill Caraher and I are working on a proposal for a collection of essays focusing on exciting theoretical approaches to the field of Byzantine archaeology

Beyond Icons: Theory and Method in Byzantine Archaeology
Ed. William Caraher and Kostis Kourelis

Over the past three decades, archaeologists interested in the Byzantine period have made significant contributions to archaeological methodology and theoretical approaches to the study of the Medieval period in the Eastern Mediterranean. Byantinists represent some of the keenest “early adopters” of new field methods, technologies, and interpretative tools, and have contributed to the overall intellectual development of archaeology as a discipline. At the same time, the interpretation of the material culture of Byzantium has become steadily more engaged with a dynamic range of theoretical approaches. These approaches have sought to understand the Byzantine experience in relation to a set of profound new questions that have emerged at the center of the humanities and the social sciences (anthropology, sociology). Issues of material culture and its relation to identity, gender, power, sexuality, performance, colonialism, Middle-range theory, processualism and postprocessualism have become central to the discipline of Byzantine archaeology.

The prominence of archaeologists within the transdisciplinary space of Byzantine studies has certainly contribued to their ability to react and to contribute to theoretical problems rising across the humanities (art history, philology, anthropology, economic, social, and political history, architecture, etc.). Until recently, however, the contributions of broader theoretical and methodological discourses within Byzantine archaeology has tended to be marginal to the larger discourse of Byzantine studies. In fact, the impact of Byzantine archaeologists has tended to be greater in the fields of Mediterranean archaeology, architectural history, and even critical theory than in the field of Byzantine studies proper. This volume seeks to redress this issue by bringing together a major series of papers focusing on method and theory in the specific context of Byzantine archaeology.

The goal of this collection is to highlight theoretical innovations that have risen from wide variety of perspectives and have never been featured in a collective manner. We hope that this volume will encapsulate a rising engagement with theory among a young generation of scholars. We believe that the discipline of Byzantine archaeology find itself at an interesting cross-road as expressed, for example, by "Byzantine Archaeology in North America: Conversations on Archaeology," held at Dumbarton Oaks on April 9-10, 2010.

We are currently soliciting abstracts for contributions to this volume. Since the volume seeks to foreground the contributions of theory and method to Byzantine archaeology (and vice versa), we encourage papers that directly engage the theoretical and methodological discourse in a transparent and prominent way. We hope that all the papers address some aspect outlined in Matthew Johnson's standard textbook, Archaeological Theory: An Introduction (Chichester, 2010). In fact, we envision titles that feature the theoretical and methodological perspective prominently : e.g. Post-Colonialism and the Byzantine Other or Intensive Surface Survey and Byzantine Settlement.

In an effort to encompass the range of theoretical and methodological contributions present in Byzantine archaeology, we are looking for papers of less than 8,000 words and prefer papers of 5,000 words. Our aim is to have a complete set of titles and 200-word abstracts by September 1, 2010. At this time, we will solicit a publisher. We hope that manuscripts will be completed by February 2011 and the volume will go into production in April 2011.

A number of contributors have already engaged with the production of this volume and have developed ideas on the the following topics. We are very much interested in your contribution for this volume and/or any additional feedback. Please, contact Bill Caraher ( or Kostis Kourelis ( with any comments.


Habitus: Dar Brooks Hedstrom (Wittenberg College)
Hybridity/Post-Colonialism: Bill Caraher (University of North Dakota)
Mediterraneanism: Günder Varinlioğlu (Dumbarton Oaks)
Materiality: Glenn Peers (University of Texas, Austin)
Modernism/Modernity: Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College)
Performance/Orality: Amy Papalexandrou (University of Texas)
Space and Place: Ann Marie Yasin (University of Southern California)
Syndicalism: Demetris Athanasoulis (Greek Ministry of Culture)


Digital Future: Sebastian Heath (New York University)
Intensive Survey: David Pettegrew (Messiah College)
Regional Survey: Fotini Kondyli (University of Amsterdam)
Open Area Excavation: Guy Sanders (Corinth Excavations, ASCSA)
Stratigraphic Context: Adam Rabinowitz (University of Texas, Austin)
Remote Sensing: Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College)

1 comment:

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I must agree that the interpretation of the material culture of Byzantium has become steadily more engaged with a dynamic range of theoretical approaches. Will certainly visit your site more often now.


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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States