Treading the Middle Ground – Research Group Cultural Interactions in the Ancient World.

Treading the Middle Ground

We cordially invite you to participate in the first meeting of the new research group Cultural Interactions in the Ancient World. The meeting is devoted to the concept of ‘Middle Ground’, a topic that stands at the core of the Cultural Interactions theme of our group.

‘Middle Ground’ was introduced as a concept in historical studies by Richard White in his seminal The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge, 1991). The concept draws attention to the essentially negotiated cultural forms that emerge when two cultures meet. Based on mutual (mis-) conceptions about the social significance of rituals and symbols on the ‘other’ side, such forms are often pragmatically adapted to mediate the needs of distinct cultural groups, but with time may attain the status of cultural institutions in their own right.

Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to have found Corinne Bonnet (Université Toulouse) and Michael Kerschner (Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna) willing to grace our constituting meeting as keynote speakers. Professor Bonnet is an eminent scholar of Mediterranean religion and has applied ‘Middle Ground’ theory to Phoenician-Greek interactions, most notably in her recent book Les enfants de Cadmos: le paysage religieux de la Phénicie hellénistique (Paris, 2015). Michael Kerschner is director of the research group “Cult and Sanctuary” at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He leads the Austrian excavations of the Artemision at Ephesos and has published widely on Greek sanctuaries in Greece and Asia Minor.


09.30-10.00: Reception

10.00-10.15: Welcome

10.15-11.15: Keynote: Corinne Bonnet: “Gods, men, spaces and objects in the Phoenician middle ground.”

11.15-11.45: Coffee

11.45-12.45: Short pitches by members of the group (Rolf Strootman; Floris van den Eijnde; Lucinda Dirven); public discussion

12.45-13.45: Lunch

13.45-14.45: Keynote: Michael Kerschner: “Ionian-Lydian interrelations in the Archaic period: Did they take place in a “middle ground”?

14.45-15.15: Tea

15.15-16.30: Short pitches by members of the group (Miguel John Versluys; Christina Williamson; Elon Heijmans; Anique Hamelink); public discussion

16.30-16.45: Concluding remarks

17.00- Drinks and dinner

Some bibliography on the Middle Ground

for pdf’s contact

  • Carla M. Antonaccio, ‘Networking the Middle Ground? The Greek Diaspora, Tenth to Fifth Century BC’. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 28.1 (2013), 237-251.
  • Corinne Bonnet, Les enfants de Cadmos: le paysage religieux de la Phénicie hellénistique (Paris, 2015).
  • Corinne Bonnet, ‘The Religious Life in Hellenistic Phoenicia: ‘Middle Ground’ and New Agencies’, in J. Rüpke (ed.) The Individual in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (Oxford, 2013), 41-57.
  • Irad Malkin, A Small Greek World (Oxford, 2011 – esp. chs. 4 and 5).
  • Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the GreatLakes Region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge, 1991).

Credits: 1 EC for attending and handing in a reflection report.

Date & Time: 12 April 2019, 9:30 – 17:00 (drinks and dinner afterwards)

Please mail Pim Möhring ( Please indicate if you wish to join for dinner (drinks afterward and dinner are for your own cost), and, if so, if you have any dietary requirements.

Participation fee: Please note that attendance is free of charge and includes coffee, tea, and lunch. As mentioned above, drinks and dinner afterward are at own expense.

Location: Nina van Leerzaal, UvA Bijzondere Collecties Oude Turfmarkt 129, Amsterdam

Language: English