Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I did at the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting in San Francisco, November 2011 - and why I was SO TIRED!

Thursday November 17.

8.20 – 10.25am

Archaeology of Cyprus I

Theme: This session focuses on current archaeological research in Cyprus from prehistory to the modern period. Erin Walceck Averett Presiding. Paper (that I went to): Sam Crooks, University of Melbourne. “What are those Queer Stones? Baetyls: Aniconism and Ambiguity in Prehistoric Cypriot Cult.”

10.40am – 12.45pm

Theoretical Approaches to Near Eastern Archaeology I

Theme: Conceptualising Space and Place. Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne, and Andrew McCarthy (CAARI), Presiding. Introduction; Papers: Emily Miller Bonney, California State University, Fullerton. “Computer Modelling and the Epistemological Dilemma of Reconstructing the Past.”; Antonietta Catanzariti, University of California, Berkeley. “The Study of the material Culture of the Obelisk Temple at Byblos: An Insight into Social Customs of Middle Bronze Age Byblos.”; Rhian Stotts, Arizona State University. “Changes in Households through the Urbanisation Process: The Case of Bronze Age Cyprus.”; Caroline Tully, University of Melbourne. “The Sacred Life of Trees: What Trees Say About People in the Prehistoric Aegean and Near East.”; Susan Cohen, Montana State University. “Stability and Sustainability: Approaches to Urbanisation in the Bronze Age Southern Levant.”; Ann Schafer, American University, Cairo. “The Assyrian Palace as Microcosm: Current Theoretical Approaches to Empire and ‘Space’.”

2.00 – 4.05pm

Theoretical Approaches to Near Eastern Archaeology II

Theme: Materialisation of Status and Identity. Sarah Keilt Costello, University of Houston, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: Rick Bonnie, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven. “Grasping a Developing Cultural Melting Pot through Archaeology: A Case Study from Galilee during the Second century, CE.”; Cynthia Colburn, Pepperdine University. “Performance Spaces in Prepalatial Crete.”; Stephanie Reed, University of Chicago. “Gift Ideology in the Persepolis Sculptures.”; Eudora J. Struble, University of Chicago. “Carving Culture: Ethnoarchaeology as a Tool for Understanding Ancient Near Eastern Stone Carvings and Craftspeople.”’ Rick Hauser IIMAS–International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies. “Sapir and Quantifiable ‘Crudeness’.”

4.20 – 6.25pm

Individual Submissions

Zev Farber, Emory University. “Egyptian Images of Death: A Reaction Formation?”
Lolita Nikolova, International Institute of Anthropology. “Health and the Prehistoric Terracotta Figurines from the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Friday November 18

8.20 – 10.25am

Archaeology of Cyprus II

Theme: This session focuses on current archaeological research in Cyprus from prehistory to the modern period. Elizabetta Cova, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, presiding. Papers: Catherine Kearns, Cornell University. “The Problem of Place: Refiguring the Landscapes of First Millennium BCE Cyprus.”; Johanna Smith, Princeton University. “Cypriot Iron Age Glyptic: New Evidence from Marion and Kourion.”; Pamela Gaber, Lycoming College. “Cypriote Sculpture and Israelite Pillar Base Figurines.”; Michael Toumazou, Davidson College, Derek Counts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P. Nick Kardulias, College of Wooster, Erin Averett, Creighton University, Clay Coffer, Bryn Mawr College, and Matthew Spigelman, New York University. “Atheniou Archaeological Project, 2011: Investigations at Atheniou-Malloura, Cyprus.”; R. Scott Moore, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and William Caraher, University of North Dakota. “A New Hellenistic Fortification at Vigla, Cyprus.”; Katherine Tipton, University of Calgary. “Idalion, Cyprus: Excavations of an Industrial Complex, 2010-2011 Seasons.”

10.40am – 12.45pm

Archaeology of Ritual and Religion I

Theme: This session features papers on the archaeology of ritual and religion in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. Andrea Creel, University of California, Berkeley, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: Carl Savage, Drew University. “Assemblage at the Gate: Sacred Domestic Ritual?”; Eilis Monahan, Ruprecht-Karls Universit√§t. “Community and Complexity in the Mortuary Landscapes of Prehistoric Bronze Age Cyprus.”; Sharon Zuckerman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Cult In and Out of the City: The Case of Bronze Age Canaan.”; Kim Shelton, University of California, Berkeley. “Reconstructing Ritual in the Cult Centre of Mycenae.”; Erica Hughes, University of Liverpool. “Structured Deposition in the Neolithic of Anatolia.”; Annlee Dolan, San Joaquin Delta College. “Communal Ritual Meals: Evidence for Feasting in Iron Age Transjordan.”

2.00 – 4.05pm

Archaeology of Ritual and Religion II

Theme: This session features papers on the archaeology of ritual and religion in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. Dana DePietro, University of California, Berkeley, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: (that I went to) Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, St Joseph’s University. “The Bare Facts: Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence for Phoenician Astarte.”; Darren Ashby, University of Pennsylvania. “Because of his Reverence for the Gods and his Respect for Kingship.”; Elizabeth Minor, University of California, Berkeley. “Conflict and Co-option: The use of the Egyptian Winged Sun Disk Motif in Nubian Burials of the Classic Kerma Period.”;

Yavneh – Celebrating the First Report of the Iron Age Favissa

Raz Kletter, University of Helsinki, presiding. Papers: (that I attended) Wolfgang Zwickel, Johannes-Gutenburg University. “The Character of the Sanctuary at Yavneh.”; Irit Ziffer, Eretz-Israel Museum. “Diminished Sanctuaries: The Cult Stands of Yavneh between East and West.”

4.20 – 6.25pm

Reports on Current Excavations and Surveys – ASOR affiliated II

Assaf Yasur-Landau, University of Haifa, presiding. Papers (that I went to): Eric Cline, The George Washington University and Assaf Yasur-Landau, University of Haifa. “The Four-Dimensional Palace: the Middle Bronze Age Palace of Kabri Through Time and Space.”; Nurith Goshen, University of Pennsylvania. “Building Technique and Cultural Identity: Floors, Orthostats and the Construction of the Palace at Kabri.”; Inbal Samet, University of Haifa. “A View from the Chrono-Typological pottery Sequence from the Middle Bronze Age Palace at Kabri.”; Ligh-Ann Bedal, Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College. “The Petra Garden and Pool Complex.”

Saturday November 19

8.20 – 10.25am

Archaeology of Gender

Theme: This session explores the interface between gender and archaeology and the ways in which archaeology and related disciplines can reconstruct the world of women and other gender groups in antiquity. Beth Alpert Nakhai, Univerisy of Arizona, presiding. Papers: April Nowell, University of Victoria, and Melanie Chang, University of Oregon. “Pornography is in the Eye of the Beholder: Sex, Sexuality and Gender in the Identification of Upper Palaeolithic Figurines.”; Kathleen McCaffrey, Independent Scholar. “Decoding the Rite and Image of Lamashtu.”; Rainer Albetrz, University of M√ľnster. “Goddesses as Theophoric Elements of Levantine Personal Names.”; Sarah Dorsey Bollinger, Hebrew Union College. “The Mysterious Actions of the Captive Woman in Deuteronomy 21: 10-14.”; Jennie R. Ebeling, The Presentation of Women’s Lives in Antiquity in Museums in Israel and Jordan.”

10.40am – 12.45pm

Secondary Context for Objects with No Known Prevenance (A Workshop About the Ethics of Scholarly Research)

Theme: This workshop will consider how the field should deal with controversial areas of study, exhibition and publication of artefacts whose origins are contested or unknown. Rick Hauser, IIMAS–International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies, Christopher Tuttle, American Center for Oriental Research, and Christina Brody, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, presiding. Presentations: (that I heard) Elizabeth C. Stone, Stony Brook University. “Why Looting?”; Christina Luke, Boston University. “The Conventions in 2011.”; Giorgio Buccellatti, University of California, Los Angeles. “The Site as Book.”; Zahi Hawass, Minister for State Antiquities, Republic of Egypt. “The Value of Objects.”

12.45 – 2.00pm

Projects on Poster Session

2.00 – 4.04pm

Religions in Bronze and Iron Age Jordan

Theme: This session is devoted to material, written and artistic evidence for religious practices and ideas of Bronze Age and Iron Age Transjordan and to the interpretation of that evidence, including new discoveries and new insights on existing evidence, in view of both continuity and distinction within that larger chronological span. Joel S. Burnett, Baylor University, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: Paul Donnelley, University of Sydney, James Fraser, University of Sydney, and Jamie Lovell, University of Sydney. “Sacred Landscapes and Sovereign Territories: A MB–LB Migdol ‘Border’ Temple.”; Stephen Bourke, University of Sydney. “The Bronze Age–Iron Age Pella Temple and Cultic Artefacts.”; Ken Bramlett, La Sierra University. “The LB Temple at ‘Umaryi and Implications for the Interpretation of Religion in LBII Jordan.”; P.M. Michele Daviau, Wilfrid Laurier University. “Temples and Shrines in Central Jordan and the Negev.”; Chang-Ho Ji, La Sierra University. “An Iron Age Temple at Khirbat Ataruz, Jordan: Architecture, Cultic Objects and Interpretation.”; Rebecca Trow, University of Liverpool. “Beyond Religions of Identity: The Dhiban Figurines in Context.”

4.20 – 6.25pm

Alcohol and the Near East

Michael Homan, Xavier University of Louisiana, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: (that I heard) Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne, and Alex Zuckerman, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. “Drinking the Sea Dark Wine: Performativity and Identity in Social Drinking in the Bronze-Iron Age Mediterranean.”; Brent Davis, University of Melbourne. “Alcohol and the Minoans: Interpretations of Ritual Libation and Consumption.”

“Figuring Out” the Figurines of the Ancient Near East

Stephanie Langin-Hooper, Bowling Green State University, presiding. Introduction.; Papers: (that I heard) Doug Bailey, San Francisco State University. “Uncertainty and Precarious Partiality: New Thinking on Figurines.”; Christopher A. Tuttle, American Center for Oriental Research. “Miniature Nabatean Coroplastic Vessels.”; Erin Darby, University of Tennessee and Michael Press, University of Arkansas. “Composite Figurines from the Iron II Levant: A Comparative Approach.”; Andrea Creel, University of California, Berkeley. “Manipulating the Divine and Late Bronze/Iron Age ‘Astarte’ plaques in the southern Levant.”

So... this is what I went to, there was much more going on that I did not go to, unfortunately. But doing this much at least is the reason I was so tired by the time I got to the CoG AAR Reception!

What I did - and did not do - at the American Academy of Religion 2011 annual meeting in San Francisco

Thursday 17 November, 5.00pm

I was actually at the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting – an archaeology conference – at this stage, having just presented my paper for that conference. On this night however, my friend Sam and I went out to dinner and the opera (Carmen) with Pagans, Fritz Muntean and Deborah Bender. I did not officially transfer over to the American Academy of Religion conference until the Saturday night, as per below:

Saturday, November 19, 9.00pm – 11.00pm

Northern California Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess welcomes the American Academy of Religion and the San Francisco Bay Area Pagan Community! (Hilton Hotel).

This was an amazing event that included representatives of Afro-Diasporic, Ceremonial Magic, Druid, Heathen, Pagan, and Wiccan groups. There were over 30 different groups, organisations, and distinguished Elders present, representing the Bay Area’s diverse Pagan and Heathen scene.

Sunday, 20 November, 7.30am

Got up extremely early to attend a young scholars breakfast organised by the Academic Dean of Cherry Hill Seminary, Wendy Griffin (it wasn’t necessarily for ‘young’ people, more early career researchers). Then we all went over to the first session, listed just below:

Sunday, 9.00am – 11.30am

AAR Contemporary Pagan Studies Group and Religion and Ecology Group

Whitney Bauman, Florida International University Presiding. Theme: Elemental Theology and Feminist Earth Practices. Panelists: Rosemary R. Reuther, Claremont Graduate University; and Starhawk, Earth Activist Training. Responding: Marion S. Grau, Graduate Theological Union; Jone Salomonsen, University of Oslo; and Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University.

Lunch 11.30 – 1.00pm

I had lunch with Reclaiming Witch, Macha NightMare, who I have known online for years. It was great to get to chat intensively with her and I can see that if we had more time we could go on and on talking for hours. Hope to do that some other time!

1 – 2.30pm

AAR Contemporary Pagan Studies Group

Graham Harvey, Open University, Presiding. Theme: West Coast Pagan Practices and Ideas. Papers: Christopher W. Chase, Iowa State University. Building a California Bildung: Theodore Rozak’s and Alan Watts’ Contributions to Pagan Hermeneutics; Kristy Coleman, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University. Re-riting Women: Dianic Wicca; [and unfortunately cancelled] Kerry Noonan, California State University, Northridge. “Wish They All Could Be California Grrrls?”: The Influence of California Women on the Goddess Movement and Neo-Paganism. Responding: Fritz Muntean, Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies.

3.00 – 4.30pm

Simply had to go rest in my hotel room.

5.00pm – 6.30pm

Indigenous Religious Traditions Group

Jace Weaver, University of Georgia, Presiding. Theme: behind Enemy Lines. Papers: Lee Gilmore, California State University Northridge, and Sabina Magliocco, California State University Northridge. Pagans at the Parliament: Interfaith Dialogue between Pagan and Indigenous Communities; Carmen Landsdown. “Dances with Dependency”: An Indigenous Theological Exploration of Dependency and Development Theories and Their Influences on Liberation Theology for the Twenty-first Century; [and an unfortunate no-show] Comfort Max-Wirth, Florida International University. The Occult and Politics in Ghana: Tapping into the Pentecostal Discourse of Demonizing African Traditional Religion as a Political Strategy; [and another no-show!!!] Orenda Boucher, Concordia University. Violence and the Grotesque of Sacred Bodies: Iconography of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.


Collapsed from tiredness in my hotel room.

Monday 21 November


Through lack of sleep, unable to rise early enough to attend the Cherry Hill Seminary breakfast. (Grrr!) Slept in sufficiently to be fresh for presenting my paper today.

1.00pm – 3.30pm

AAR Contemporary Pagan Studies Group

Shawn Arthur, Appalachian State University, Presiding. Theme: Pagan Analysis and Critique of “Religion”. Papers: Suzanne Owen, Leeds Trinity. Definitions, Decisions and Druids: Presenting Druidry as a Religion; Christine Kraemer, Cherry Hill Seminary. Perceptions of Scholarship in Contemporary Paganism; Helen Berger, Brandeis University. Fifteen Years of Continuity and Change within the American Pagan Community; Caroline Tully, University of Melbourne. Researching the Past is a Foreign Country: Cognitive Dissonance as a Response by Practitioner Pagans to Academic Research on the History of Pagan Religions. Business Meeting: Chas Clifton, Colorado State University, Presiding.

4.00pm – 6.30pm

Western Esotericism Group

Cathy Gutierrez, Sweet Briar College, Presiding. Theme: Western Esotericism and Material Culture. Papers: Egil Asprem, University of Amsterdam. Technofetishism, Instrumentation, and the Materiality of Esoteric Knowledge; Shawn Eyer, John F. Kennedy University. The Use of Tracing Boards and Other Art Objects as Physical Aids of Symbolic Communication in the Rituals and Practices of Freemasonry; Stephen Wehmeyer, Champlain College. Conjurational Contraptions: “Techno-gnosis”, Mechanical Wizardry, and the Material Culture of African American Folk Magic; Henrik Bogdan, University of Gothenburg. “Objets d’Art Noir”, Magical Engines, and Gateways to Other Dimensions: Understanding Hierophanies in Contemporary Occultism; Joseph Christian Greer, Harvard University. Storming the Citadel for Knowledge, Aesthetics and Profit: The Dreamachine in Twentieth Century Esotericism.

6.30 pm

European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism and Aries Reception

The European Society of the Study of Western Esotericism and its associated journal Aries invite[d] current and potential members of ESSWE and current and potential contributors to Aries to a reception to hear briefly about plans for ESSWE and Aries, and to renew or extend contacts within the field.

(There was also a session on Saturday 19 November from 8.30am – 12.30pm that I was invited to present in but which I could not attend, as I was still at ASOR: Phoenix Rising Academy. Theme: Demons in the Academy? Renouncing Rejected Knowledge, Again. Description: Join us for a special session exploring the transdisciplinary options for balanced and integrative approaches to Western Esotericism, while drawing attention to issued relating to the focus on disinterested empiricism as the sole acceptable method for the study of these topics. Integrative models and approaches combining scholarly rigor with imaginative and sympathetic engagement have long been established in many areas of the humanities and social sciences. Yet the question of scholarly overengagment with their topic continues to be a point of contention, while voices calling from channels of dialogue and mutual understanding between scholars and practitioners in order to better explore the application and potential of such epistemologies are frequently met with suspicion in academic circles. In this session we seek to explore ways to build bridges of fruitful communication and mutual understanding between seemingly disparate voices and perspectives. Topics include: Legitimate ways of knowing: experiential knowledge and/or symbolic perception; How can we learn from each other? Bridging the practitioner-scholar divide; Is history and discourse analysis enough?; Paradigms for integration and applied transdisciplinary methodology. Details here.

That’s All Folks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

American Academy of Religion Conference 2011

I've just come back from a fabulously stimulating time in San Francisco during which I attended the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) conference and the American Academy of Religion (AAR) conference. I'll report on ASOR later and concentrate on the AAR for the moment. Now that I've presented my paper at the AAR I will post my original proposal here - which I wasn't really even sure would be accepted. But it was, so I had to work hard on it, fortunately it was built from the paper I presented mid year at the Archaeology and Narration Conference at Melbourne University. Here it is:

Researching the Past, is a Foreign Country: Cognitive Dissonance as a response by practitioner Pagans to academic research on the history of Pagan religions.

Modern Paganism is a new religious movement with a strong attachment to the past. Looking back through time to an often idealised ancient world, Pagans seek inspiration, validation and authorisation for present beliefs and activities as espoused in the familiar catch-cries of “tradition”, “lineage” and “historical authenticity”. A movement that consciously looks to the past and claims to revive the ancient religious practices of pre-Christian Europe, modern Paganism has always been dependent upon academic scholarship—particularly history, archaeology and anthropology—in its project of self-fashioning. Dependant primarily upon late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship, Pagans often vociferously reject more recent research, especially when it contradicts earlier findings, perceiving it as threatening to their structure of beliefs and sense of identity. Not only do the results of such scholarship traumatise Pagans—however unwittingly on the scholars’ part—in some cases it rebounds upon the researchers themselves when Pagans seek to traumatise the scholars, the “bearers of bad news”, in return.

This paper will present case studies which display the contested nature of the past by highlighting the combative interaction between Pagans and academic researchers at three types of site-as-stage: the text, the archaeological site and the museum, and explain how the performers fail to communicate as a result of speaking different “languages”. The paper will initially focus upon the frequently negative reception, by Witches, of recent historical research on modern Pagan Witchcraft. It will also look at Goddess Tours to Crete and other ancient Mediterranean sites, as well as the “new indigene” prevalent in British Druidry and their involvement in the dispute regarding access to and interpretation of archaeological sites and museum objects. The paper will then discuss the infusion into Paganism of hybrid vigour through the activities of the Pagan Studies scholar, a researcher often in the role of participant-observer, who can function as a “go-between”, easing the sense of resentment by Pagans toward the perceived colonisation of their religion by “hackademics”.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Word of Tree and Whisper of Stone

Well, this is what I did at the Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering 30th anniversary - that is, when I wasn't maniacally socialising. I went for a nature/powerwalk around the crater rim and visited with trees and stones on the inside of the crater. For more social pictures of the event, see the official Mt Franklin blog.