CFP: Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity, 21st-22nd June 2023, University of Liverpool

We invite papers for a conference (and planned edited volume) on Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity. The remarkably homogeneous ways of thinking about Christian political authority across the Roman world in late antiquity (c. 250-700 CE)—so carefully reconstructed in classic mid-20th century accounts—mask the immense diversity of the social and institutional contexts in which those ideas mattered. The character of Christian governance could look very different to an official placed at the centre of power as against an ordinary Christian standing in the nave of an urban basilica, a civic grandee sitting in the plush seats of a provincial town council, or an ascetic keeping vigil in a remote monastic cell. In fact, widely divergent visions of what the divine sanctioning of earthly rule meant in practice are visible even across the many different (and sometimes competing) institutions of late ancient states.

We particularly invite papers on:

  1. Distinctive forms of Christian thought or practice (and, indeed, thinking about the importance or otherwise of Christian thought and practice) within particular political institutions and configurations in specific times and places (e.g. imperial or royal palaces, official bureaux, army units, governor’s residences, town councils, elite households, villages, estates and peasant communities etc); amongst the members of those political institutions (e.g. under/around particular empresses/queens, generals, or governors, or amongst chamberlains, soldiers, or office staffs)
  2. Distinctive forms of thought and practice regarding politics and governance within particular Christian communities, institutions and settings (e.g. church factions, episcopal sees, monasteries, ascetic communities)
  3. The interplay of these divergent institutional and communal assumptions as seen in particular events, episodes or moments of conflict (e.g. petitions to court, legal and doctrinal disputes, urban riots)

This conference is designed as a pre-publication workshop (in person and online) for a planned edited volume on Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity. Participants will be expected to submit their papers in advance for pre-circulation, read the other papers in advance of the workshop, and be willing to act as the designated respondent for another paper. Each paper will receive a dedicated session with a short presentation from the author, a response, and a general Q&A session/ discussion. The deadline to submit draft essays for the edited volume will be 31 July 2024.

The deadline for proposals is 30 June 2022. Please send a title and an abstract (no longer than 500 words) to Dr Robin Whelan.

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