CfP – Conference 2024

Updated deadline for abstracts: 30 June 2023.

Dear colleagues,

We are delighted to share the call for papers for the for the upcoming 5th conference of the Hellenistic Central Asia Research Network (HCARN), “Whose custom is it anyway? Empire, cities and people through archaeology, art and written sources in Hellenistic Central Asia” which will be held from Thursday 21st to Saturday 23rd March 2024 at the Université Paris-Nanterre, France.

Recent bibliography on Hellenistic Central Asia excels at finding new ways to emphasize the privileged position of this region: crossroads of Asia, nexus of the Eurasian steppe, heart of the Silk Roads, the latter being a concept which itself is being critically reconsidered. There is no questioning the fact that multiple influences were at play in Hellenistic Central Asia, a unique melting-pot which led to stunning and innovative cultures. The body of evidence grows larger each year and testifies to multicultural societies across the steppe, the irrigated plains of Bactria and the Indus, and the high valleys from the Tian Shan to the Karakoram through the Pamir mountain ranges. 

This collection of varied and complex influences in all aspects of everyday life is a challenge for scholars trying to determine the respective features originating from the Achaemenid, Hellenistic (and, beyond, Mediterranean), Indian, Chinese and Steppe worlds. Above all, the very people living in Central Asia when the main empires emerged, namely the Bactrians but not only them, suffer from an alarming underrepresentation bordering on near-absence in historiography. 

As there are numerous ways to tackle these issues, we chose to focus our attention on an inverted-pyramidal approach starting with the imperial/royal level, then through a more regional and urban perspective, and finishing with the individual view. Specifically, the question of identification, combination, adaptation and/or confrontation of customs and traditions, wherever they originate from, is at the heart of our investigation. Through these topics, we wish to encourage reflection upon social and cultural interactions.

Papers should address the following problems:
        •       How did the geographical and social context of Central Asia influence emerging imperial and royal policies, both foreign and domestic?
        •       What place should be given to local customs and traditions, if any, in settlement features, patterns and networks?
        •       What degree of social cohesion may we infer in various aspects of everyday life, thus leading to a potential Central Asian vivre-ensemble?

Topics of historical and archaeological interest also include but are not limited to:
        •       Which methodologies should be considered and/or encouraged regarding cultural heritage and preservation of archaeological sites?
        •       New management tools such as software or approaches for archives and data oversight and exploitation.

We welcome proposals for 20-minutes papers on relevant topics, from both established scholars and early career researchers. Abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with the author’s name, title and institutional affiliation, should be submitted to no later than June 1st, 2023. Please note that we also encourage poster presentations, and that communications via Zoom will be possible on a case-by-case basis.

Olivier Bordeaux and Ségolène de Pontbriand, “Archéologie de l’Asie centrale” team (CNRS)