Autumn School 2023

From 14.-17.11.2023 (Tuesday-Friday) the Autumn School "Entanglement and Globalization in Ancient Worlds" organized by the Doctoral College "Entangled Antiquities" will take place in Innsbruck.


Date and Venue: 14.-17.11.2023 in the Claudianasaal in Innsbruck

Procedure: From Tuesday morning until Friday noon, 7 researchers will each give a 45-minute presentation in the context of 7 sessions. This will be followed by two keynote speeches by doctoral students, each followed by a plenary discussion. In addition to the presentation and the keynote speech, two articles sent out by the speakers as preparation will also serve as a basis for discussion.

Concept of the Autumn School

"‘The ancient world’ has become an accepted shorthand for a very narrow zone of human interaction, centered around a single sea: our self-imposed boundaries have lured us into mistaking a part for the whole."[1]

Michael Scott’s critique on the superficiality of the equation “the ancient world” = Mediterranean reveals a major methodological problem of contemporary research in ancient history, which can be nicely illustrated examining entanglement and globalization as historical concepts. On the one hand there is an ever-growing acceptance of various degrees of interconnectedness as driving forces of historical processes, on the other hand a lack of scholarly accounts that not only mention such forms of connectivity but describe and explain them. A plethora of books with titles such as “... in the ancient world”[2] tackling their specific subjects more or less exclusively from a Graeco-Roman perspective, aptly document a scholarly approach that is ultimately hindered by (over)institutionalized scholarly disciplines and—in the worst case—unreflective cultural bias. Furthermore, this seems to suggest that the ancient world not only ends beyond the Mediterranean, it also forces this “world” into quite narrow chronological boundaries. Apparently, longue durée processes that encompass the Ancient Near East and Egypt, as well as Late Antique and Medieval Eurasia are not supposed to be part of this ancient world.

Particularly in the light of methodological developments in modern social sciences during the last decades—dubbed as the “global turn”[3]—such an understanding of the ancient world is revealed as a strongly misleading pars pro toto approach that needs to be overcome. The Autumn School Entanglement and Globalization in Ancient Worlds seeks to challenge these deficits with recourse to the well-known concepts of entanglement and globalization.

In his seminal study on the history of sugar consumption, Sidney Mintz used the word entanglement to describe how a singular comestible closely interlocked Caribbean and European worlds at the dawn of the modern era.[4] Today the concept of entanglement is not only a staple in the thriving field of so called “global history”[5], phenomena of entanglement keep being detected always further back in time.[6]

In contrast to that, the term globalization is used only reluctantly to describe historical phenomena before c.1500 BCE albeit a quite broadly defined and therefore easily extendable concept of “archaic globalization”[7] exists. This is especially striking since the theory of globalization uses a variety of quite clearly defined heuristic tools—e.g., hybridization, variability, glocalization, grobalization etc.[8]—which are appropriate to describe and explain all kinds of connectivity through the ages.

The Autumn School Entanglement and Globalization in Ancient Worlds aims at exploring and explaining the concepts of entanglement and globalization outlined above by means of various case studies and theoretical considerations. This joint scholarly endeavor will shed further light on the heuristic value and applicability of said terms with the goal of enabling descriptions of the ancient world that goes beyond a conscious or unconscious compartmentalization of thought.


[1] Michael Scott, Ancient Worlds: A Global History of Antiquity (New York: Basic Books, 2016) 23.

[2] See ibid., 450 fn. 24 for examples.

[3] Eve Darian-Smith and Philip C. McCarty, The Global Turn: Theories, Research Designs, and Methods for Global Studies (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017).

[4] Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Penguin, 1986).

[5] See for instance Sebastian Conrad, What Is Global History? (Princeton • Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2016).

[6] See for instance Appropriating Innovations: Entangled Knowledge in Eurasia, 5000–1500 BCE ed. Joseph Maran and Philipp Stockhammer (Oxford • Philadelphia: Oxbow, 2017).

[7] See Christopher A. Bayly, ‘Archaic’ and ‘Modern’ Globalization in the Eurasian and African Arena, c.1750–1850 (ed. Antony G. Hopkins; Globalization in World History, London: Pimlico, 2002) 47–73.

[8] For these four terms see Tamar Hodos, Globalization: Some Basics: An Introduction to The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization (ed. Tamar Hodos; The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization, London: Routledge, 2016) 3–11.

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