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Project

Abstract

This project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) investigates literary and cultural representations of travel and mobility – the often temporary move of a person from her or his home to another location – in ancient Israelite/Jewish narratives. The sources under scrutiny include selected texts of the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish writings from the Hellenistic and early Roman eras (ca. 300 BCE – 100 CE). The sources originate from different parts of the Mediterranean region.

Who travelled in the ancient world and why? ANINAN seeks to understand how human mobility was perceived and/or imagined in Jewish antiquity, including its agents, motives, and outcomes. The main objectives are: (1) to produce a series of case studies that illustrate the portrayal of human mobility and its social confines in ancient Israelite/Jewish literature; and (2) to compare and theorize the literary and cultural representations of travel in an intersectional frame. The selected intersectional approach is novel and unearths questions of social stratification that evidently pertain to (in)voluntary forms of mobility, including the individual profile of the traveller and the social realities that prompted, enabled, or compelled her or his movement or relocation in the first place.

Ancient travel accounts are expected to reveal striking intersectional concerns, highlighting the complexity of human phenomena such as mobility. While multiple ‘categories of difference’ characterize the travelling agents described in the sources, ANINAN seeks to demonstrate that mobility also affects and shapes these categories, e.g., by leading the agent to negotiate, refine, or recreate aspects of her or his identity. The sources also illustrate encounters between Israelites/Jews and ‘others’, which adds to our notion of cultural interaction in the ancient eastern Mediterranean.

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