The dissemination of the centre
The pool of projects developed at the centre will make us understand how memory is inscribed and embodied in the Eastern Mediterranean culture in Antiquity. The focus is on the Old Testament in its cultural context, which means that one regards the bible as an arbitrary cultural artifact together with other cultural expressions. For this purpose the research of the Centre is crossdisciplinary. This is our primary objective.
In addition to comprehending the specific expressions of social memory, our objective is to develop a hermeneutics and methodology for this kind of research in the Old Testament, in which the borders between academic disciplines and traditions of research have been reduced for the benefit of a common field of research.
The theological affiliation of the Centre is motivated by our special interest in the Old Testament as a religious product of the process of memorization. The project enhances dominant theologies in the bible, which are significant for our understanding of this cultural heritage of central importance to our own tradition.
It is our contention that there is no significant difference between the individual building blocks of culture. The project of the centre stresses the importance of context for understanding the building blocks. The specificity of time and space qualifies human cognition as specific cultural and political processes. We will not discriminate between sources. The common memory perspective directs our reading strategy and interpretation to developing models of analysis based on modern ideas of adequate cultural and memory studies.
The Old Testament was created in periods of globalization, in the Persian and the Hellenistic-Roman period. The writings is a piece of memory work meant for creation of national or local identity and particularity in a global world, in the 1st millennium b.c.e. In a globalized world, counter-activity is always present, which focuses on the local, small tradition, the particular narrative, which creates its own way of coherence. The notion of "cultural memory" is used both in the humanities and in social science. Cultural memory appears as overwriting (palimpsests) and re-use of material artifacts, such as buildings, monuments, and texts, and of ritual practice. Memorization can be conscious or unconscious, incorporated in the body, and become visible material culture and monuments. The notion of landscape plays a crucial role in memory work, representing a special challenge in the project. People are never alone, but always relate to place, education, nation, family, religious and political groups, and so on. These collectives are the frames that direct people's comprehension of reality. This is the human context from which one also should look upon memory and remembrance.
Memory research concentrates especially on four fields, four media which constitute memory in Antiquity. These are:
- place (landscape theory)
- objects and representations (temple studies, studies of archaeological artifacts, iconography) and their offshots in language as metaphors
- narratives (stories and other forms of information about the past, which are transmitted orally or fixed in text)
- ritual performances and conduct.
The Centre's research projects relate to these media.
The connecting basis for the centre's research is the family relationship between the cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean area, a continuum also called the koine culture, common cultural background, common human ancestry, middle ground, or worldmaking, which has to do with cultural exchange. Working with memory in various cultures is an adequate means of comparative research. All cultures of antiquity reveal a notion of the past, something that should be remembered, and something that should be forgotten. Remembering is a fundamental mood of orientation in reality. It is expressed through rich material, which also makes up the sources of the diverse projects of the centre.
The individual projects and the conferences of the centre correspond in illustrating the central axes of
- the global and the local
- margin and centre
- the private and the official/elitarian