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New Nordic collaboration – funding from NordForsk for exploratory workshops

Three Nordic research groups will discuss the ways that humanity’s past in the Near East have been narrated and explore a more inclusive way of writing history. One group is headed by UrbNet’s centre director, Professor Rubina Raja.

Local workers in Palmyra during excavation in the 1920’s. Research on archival material as undertaken within the project Archive Archaeology, based at Aarhus University and headed by Rubina Raja, has over the last years shown the immense potential in (re)visiting archival material in its broadest sense in order to cast new light on narratives and data stemming usually from Western missions’ work in the region (© Rubina Raja and the Palmyra Portrait Project, courtesy of Mary Ebba Underdown).

A grant from NordForsk has made it possible for three groups of Nordic researchers to explore questions of historiography of the Near East, narratives of the past and the challenges of writing history.

Through two three-day workshops, taking place near Oslo during 2023 and 2024, researchers from the Nordic countries will revisit and challenge the Western story of social hierarchy as a driver for human development. They will focus on an awareness of local conditions, on the complexity of history and on critical social theory in order to identify new approaches to studying the ancient Near East and to tackling the challenges that researchers within this field are facing today. They will also address specific historical materials and the very fragmented source records.

The workshop initiative goes under the name Writing Histories of the Ancient Near East: 21st Century Challenges, and it will forge new collaborations between excellent research groups in Denmark, Finland and Norway. The already significant Nordic contribution to the intellectual field at the cutting edge of historiography and ancient Near Eastern studies will be strengthened through the workshops. Senior scholars, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students will be part of each research group, and for the workshops, also international experts will be invited. New possibilities for cross-institutional supervision will emerge. Furthermore, selected contributions from the workshops will be collected in a peer-reviewed publication.

The steering committee of the workshops and PIs of the workshop project are:

The workshops will promote the quality and the international standing of Nordic research in this field for decades to come. And with a successful workshop series and publication, the Nordic hemisphere will be one of the most progressive regions for historical reflection in our current age.

More information

NordForsk funds and facilitates Nordic research cooperation. Here you can read more about the NOS-HS Exploratory Workshop call 2022.