Workshop – The “Self” and the “Other” – The Construction and Perception of “Otherness” in Late Antiquity, University of Kiel

The “Self” and the “Other” – The Construction and Perception of “Otherness” in Late Antiquity

International Workshop to be held at the University of Kiel in cooperation with the GS Human Development in Landscapes and the Institut für Klassische Altertumskunde

23 – 25 November 2016

All human communities, throughout history, have been in contact with different groups they perceived as “other”. Such contacts generate stereotypes, prejudices and ethnical portraits, which dominate, through the definition of Otherness, the ways identity is constructed. Already in the 18th century, philosophers like Hegel (1770– 1831) reflected about how self-awareness is linked to the construction of Otherness and since then scholars have been investigating how the representation of the others is a crucial and essential component of the perception and description of the Self. This thesis does also apply to Late Antiquity and is a central tenet for the interpretation of the so-called “Migration period”.

Under the recent political challenges, Otherness and the contact of people from different cultural backgrounds are a highly relevant and discussed topic, sometimes even dealt with an explicit reference to Late Antiquity and the Migration Period (e.g.: or Nonetheless, in spite of the absolute certainty about the Migration Period shown by some politicians, many questions about the definition of Otherness and its perception in Late Antiquity are still unanswered.

In order to reveal how the “Self” and the “Other” were perceived in Late Antiquity and how these perceptions were intertwined with each other, post-graduate scholars investigating these questions from a historical, archaeological, philological or anthropological point of view are kindly invited to participate to the international Workshop “The ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’ – The construction and perception of “Otherness” in Late Antiquity” at the University of Kiel.  The workshop aims to bring established scholars together with PhD-candidates to question and discuss “Otherness” from a Roman perspective (the Western and Eastern part of the empire) in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (ca. 3rd century CE – 8th century CE) in an open round table atmosphere.

Possible topics and questions that could be addressed among others:

–           Theory of Otherness and Alterity: What is “Otherness” or “Alterity”? What theories and models are available in the fields of social sciences and humanities? With which models can Otherness be investigated? What are the pitfalls? Can new theories, terms or models be introduced for researching or defining Alterity?
–           Barbarians and Outsiders: Who was a “Barbarian”? Which are the criteria in order to define “Barbarians” in Late Antiquity? Can they still be seen as outsiders of the Roman Empire?
–           Who are the “Romans” – The Question of Identity: What were the criteria the Romans used to define themselves in Late Antiquity? Have they changed with time? Was there a process of “Barbarization”? And most of all: Who exactly was a “Roman”?
–           Perception of Otherness in Written Evidences: How was Otherness depicted and represented in the written records of Late Antiquity? Which stereotypes were used? Was there a difference between the Eastern and the Western empire in the way “Others” were perceived? Which methods do we have to apply to analyse written evidences of the time and what are the “problems” one encounters when investigating the written sources?
–           The Barbarians and the Landscape: Since landscape was a tool in literature to create a specific scenery and can therefore be seen as discourses, is it possible to see a link between the depiction of Landscapes and the process of “othering”?
–           Otherness in the Archaeological Record: Is it possible to identify “others” with help of the archaeological material? Are there new methods in the field of Archaeology to investigate otherness and how can they be combined with traditional research? What are the chances and limitations of Archaeology in the investigation of identities?

Abstracts of papers, not longer than 300 words, together with a short CV should be submitted until the 6th of July 2016 (
Accepted PhD-students can apply for travel stipends.


Veronika Egetenmeyr in cooperation with Dr. Filippo Carlà; Prof. Dr. Annette Haug and Prof. Dr. Josef Wiesehöfer

For further information, please visit our Website: