02. February 2022

Freedom and Liberation in Mediterranean Antiquity SAVE THE DATE: Freedom and Liberation in Mediterranean Antiquity - International Conference 5-8 October 2022

International Conference 5-8 October 2022

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies


Q. Servilius Caepio (M. Junius) Brutus 54 BC. AR Denarius. Rome mint. Head of Libertas
Q. Servilius Caepio (M. Junius) Brutus 54 BC. AR Denarius. Rome mint. Head of Libertas © Wikipedia GNU Free Documentation License
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We invite you to join our international conference on "Freedom and Liberation in Mediterranean Antiquity", which aims to contribute to a closer analysis and understanding of terminology, narratives, and concepts of freedom and liberation in their respective discursive, cultural, and institutional contexts. Thus it should contribute to a more nuanced understanding of what is called in the Cluster nomenclatura “strong asymmetrical dependencies”, their complements and opposites. Beyond the specific subject and in methodological and conceptual perspective, the conference aims at challenging the heuristic and descriptive strength of categories and disciplinary demarcations commonly (and sometimes uncritically) used in research, such as “philosophy”, “religion”, “law”, or “literature”, with regard to Mediterranean Antiquity and beyond. In this regard it is of primary importance to account for the interaction of different discourses, theories, textual practices etc. in detail and within a reasonable historical frame. 

The common methodological denominator of this interdisciplinary project consists of both comparison and (re-) construction of developments in a longue durée perspective. The conference therefore intends to bring together detailed case studies which make explicit the impact of the phenomena analysed they have for interaction and reception beyond narrow borders of time and space (and which are specifically interested in overlaps, contacts, mutual influence, imitations, and intentional discrimination), with other contributions which provide larger pictures viz. historical narratives or which provoke critical reflection of the descriptive or analytical categories applied, their origins and developments. 

While the label “Mediterranean Antiquity” stands for a chronological and geographical frame which has repeatedly proven its strength and practicability for the interdisciplinary and historical approaches favoured here, this does not exclude, but, to the contrary, invites contributions which provide insights for comparison and theory building in transdisciplinary perspective. Therefore, we also encourage contributions which focus, e.g., on Islamic or East Asian cultures etc. in “pre-modern” times and which will help us to understand “Mediterranean Antiquity” in broader perspective and which prevent us from the pitfalls of unconsidered Eurocentrism in our respective disciplinary research.

The conference invites contributions from all research areas of the Cluster, and it especially encourages younger scholars from various disciplines to participate. It is also open for invited specialists from Bonn and abroad, and it plans to include an international call for short papers to strengthen international relations and to foster interdisciplinary research in the respective disciplines.

The program consists of invited main papers (30 minutes + 30 minutes discussion) and short papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion) preferably from younger scholars working and the cluster, eventually completed by papers accepted via an international call for papers.

Papers should be sent in two weeks before the conference, in order to prepare copies for the audience and to secure high quality and elaboration of the papers. 

A publication of articles developed from the papers presented is planned. In order to ensure excellent quality, the invitation and presentation of a paper at the conference and publication will be regarded as two different aspects of the project.

The conference is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 5, 2022 (afternoon) to Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022 (noon). We envisage a preliminary public lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, at 6 pm, followed by an informal reception/get together.

The conference language is English.

Full venue address: Wissenschaftszentrum Bonn, Ahrstraße 45, 53175 Bonn, Germany 
Convener: Hermut Löhr (responsible; research area A), in cooperation with Ludwig Morenz, Markus Saur, Martin Schermaier, and Konrad Vössing
Email: loehr@uni-bonn.de

Responsible for the organization is Hermut Löhr together with his team (Iris Kihn, Carla Weitensteiner), in cooperation with Jan Hörber et al. (BCDSS).
Conference Office: Iris Kihn, Ev.-Theol. Fakultät der Universität Bonn
Email: Kihn@uni-bonn.de
Phone: +49-(0)228-73-7333

Contributors and Subjects

For full abstracts please click here

  • Valentina Arena (London): Public lecture; “Ownership, Self-Ownership, and Liberty”

  • Jed W. Atkins (Durham, NC): “Freedom of Conscience and Freedom of Religion in Roman philosophy and Early Christianity”

  • Ulrich Berges (Bonn): “The Exodus in the OT. Liberation and/or divine servitude?”

  • Vitali Bartash (Bonn): “Don’t be SAD! Freedom and Liberation in the ancient Near East, 2400-500 BCE”

  • Stefan Conermann (Bonn): “The Islamic Legal Concept of ‘Freedom’ - Continuity or Change?”

  • Athanasios Despotis (Bonn): “Liberating Knowledge in the Gospel of John and Ancient Philosophical Discourses on Human Freedom”

  • Jan Dietrich (Bonn): “Freedom and Liberation in Ancient Israel and Ancient Greece - a typological comparison”

  • Adam Fagbore (Bonn): “Concepts of hierarchical freedom and the other in Pharaonic Egypt”

  • Wolfram Kinzig (Bonn): “Liberating the Dead – The Descent to Hell as Redemptive Event in Late Antique Explanations of the Creed”

  • Hermut Löhr (Bonn): “Freedom at the Crossroads. Philo’s Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit in First Century Discoursive Context”

  • Noel Lenski (New Haven CT): “Varieties of Manumission as Cultural Expressions in Roman and Post-Roman Socieities - 200 BCE - 700 CE”

  • Ludwig Morenz (Bonn): „Neue ‚Freiheit‘? - Begriffliche Umschichtungen, veränderte konzeptionelle Muster und sozio-ökonomische Verschiebungen am Ende des Dritten Jahrtausends v. Chr. im Niltal”

  • Markus Öhler (Wien): “Freedom through Participation? Slaves and Slavery in Greco-Roman Associations and Early Christianity” 

  • Sarah Pearce (Southampton): “Philo and Josephus on Freedom”

  • Ilaria Ramelli (Milano): “Gregory of Nyssa: Freedom in Theology and in Human Society: Theological and Anthropologico-Social Arguments”

  • Markus Saur (Bonn): “Does Liberation Imply Freedom? Hebrew Bible Perspectives on the Meaning of Freedom”

  • Martin Schermaier (Bonn): "Favor libertatis in Roman law: a remorse towards slavery?"

  • Christian Schwermann (Bochum): “The So-Called Act of Manumission in Ancient China: What Exactly Was It that a Chinese Dependent Was Released Into?” 

  • Nicolai Sinai (Oxford): “Notions of social hierarchy and inequality in formative Islam”

  • Konrad Vössing (Bonn): “Freedom, Liberation and Dependency of Roman Freedmen in the Reflection of their Epitaphs”

  • Carla Weitensteiner (Bonn): “Inevitable Sinfulness? – Freedom of Choice & Liberation from ‚Original Sin’ in Jewish Apocalypticism in Late First Century”

  • Alexander Weiß (Frankfurt a.M.): "Freedmen in Corinth: some thoughts on 1Cor 7:21-23"

  • Chris de Wet (Pretoria): “Libera servitus? The Physical Enslavement of Some Ancient Eastern Christian Monks as a Strategy toward Spiritual Freedom” 

  • Julia Winnebeck (Bonn): “Manumissio in ecclesia: Liberation and Lasting Obligation” 

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