CFP: ‘Materiality in the Eastern Mediterranean World’, Central European University, online (28-29 May 2021), deadline 5 April 2021

The Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies (CEMS) at Central European University (Vienna/Budapest) is proud to announce the 7th International Graduate Conference on ‘Materiality in the Eastern Mediterranean World’, 28-29 May 2021. The conference will provide a forum for graduate and advanced undergraduate students working on the Eastern Mediterranean to present their current research, exchange ideas, and develop scholarly networks.

The aim of this conference is to explore how a turn towards materiality can help us to understand the Eastern Mediterranean world. The conference seeks research that investigates the role of physical “things” in history. How are material culture, technology, and the physical environment entangled in historical processes? How has the physical world shaped and been shaped by forms of social life in the Eastern Mediterranean? How have ideas and emotions been put into practice and how have they been embodied in material objects (e.g. artifacts, relics, and manuscripts)? How could materiality in the Eastern Mediterranean differ from other regions?

The committee welcomes approaches that focus on the relations between humans and their physical surroundings, the way they understand, perceive, and use them. Moreover, in turning towards the material, the conference intends to explore connections and entanglements between human/non-human, spiritual/physical, and phenomenological/epistemological.

The conference seeks innovative proposals by graduate students from all disciplines that relate to the Mediterranean world, including but not limited to Anthropology, Archeology, Art History, Classics, Environmental Science and History, Gender Studies, History, Languages and Literatures, Medieval Studies, Early Modern Studies, Philosophy, Religion, and Theology. 

Possible paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental and ecological histories
  • History of health and disease 
  • Texts as objects; cultures of documentation, archiving, and printing 
  • Economic and political practices
  • Architecture and urban history 
  • Commerce and trading systems
  • The physical manifestation and material life of symbols
  • Histories of affect and embodied physical experiences, such as pain, pleasure
  • The role of material culture in everyday life history 
  • Material history of empires. The objects of imperial formations
  • Histories of technology and science
  • Materiality and mobility in diplomacy; e.g. the role of gifts, travelogues
  • Aesthetics and design
  • Research employing economic and political approaches
  • Craftsmanship culture
  • Practices of warfare. Weapons and military technology
  • Rethinking units of analysis through materiality
  • Comparisons between the Eastern Mediterranean and other regions through materiality

Please submit by 5 April 2021 a short paper proposal (no more than 250 words, together with a brief biography and contact information) to the following address: Results will be announced by 20 April 2021.


Published by Lydia McCutcheon

Lydia McCutcheon graduated from the University of Kent with a First Class Honours in History in 2019. She also holds an MSt in Medieval Studies from the University of Oxford. Her dissertation on the twelfth-century miracle collections for St Thomas Becket and the stained-glass 'miracle windows' at Canterbury Cathedral explored the presentation of children and familial relationships in textual and visual narratives. Her research interests include the visual and material cultures of saints and sanctity, pilgrimage, and childhood and the family.

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