Against the Grain: Transversal and Micro-Connectivities in the Ancient Western Mediterranean

Against the Grain: Transversal and Micro-Connectivities in the Ancient Western Mediterranean

Academic Year:
2019 - 2020 (June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Graduate Student/Postdoc:
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
This three-day public symposium and workshop, "Against the Grain: Transversal and Micro-Connectivities in the Ancient Western Mediterranean" will bring together an international group of scholars, University of Michigan faculty, and graduate students to discuss theoretical and archaeological approaches to mobility and connectivity through an exploration of case studies from the ancient western Mediterranean. It will consist of public lectures by three senior scholars, a UM graduate student poster session, and a workshop of pre-circulated papers by junior scholars with graduate students serving as discussants. Because of linguistic and national scholarly divisions, the archaeology of the prehistoric and classical western Mediterranean (especially, Iberia, North Africa, southern France, and the western Mediterranean islands) is often omitted from American traditions of teaching and scholarship. The workshop aims to break down these divisions through two aims that tie closely with pedagogy. First, the idea for this event emerged from conversations in my graduate seminar on the same topic convened last semester. The graduate students enrolled contributed to the intellectual framing and planning of the event, which will, in turn, give them and additional UM students an opportunity to showcase their new research and network with senior and emerging international scholars. Secondly, the workshop will result in an edited volume published in English with the aim of facilitating the visibility and access of new work in the region to a wide academic audience. The events will be free and open to the UM community and wider public.
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
25 graduate students
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
10 undergraduate students
Budget Administrator:
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

The overarching objective of the symposium and workshop was to provide an opportunity for research and discussion on mobility and connectivity in the ancient western Mediterranean, with attention to diachronic research, landscapes beyond urban settings, and small/regional scale analyses. In practical terms, this included 1) providing a forum for graduate students to present their ongoing work and receive feedback, 2) bringing senior scholars to campus for two sets of public lectures on these topics to a broad campus and community audience, and 3) providing the context for discussion and critical feedback of pre-circulated chapters by junior scholars, which will become the core chapters of an edited volume.

Project Achievements:

We successfully convened a major international symposium and workshop. This included four keynote symposium speakers, all senior scholars working on aspects of connectivity and mobility in the Mediterranean Iron Age and Roman periods. The public events also included a poster session for the presentation of graduate student work to the event speakers, UM community, and wider public. The other major component was a pre-circulated paper workshop to discuss work by 8 emerging and junior scholars, with UM faculty and graduate students acting as discussants. The plan for these events emerged from a graduate seminar I taught last year, and I was glad that my students had the opportunity to see how teaching and seminars can and should directly impact active research and scholarly activities (both for me as their professor and for them as young scholars). Mobility and connectivity are also important topics across many humanities and social science disciplines, and the event successfully showcased how new work of archaeologists that contributes to these conversations.

The main outcome of the project after the granting period will be to transform the talks and paper contributions into an edited volume for the purpose of disseminating our research in a readable, English-language format for advanced students and scholars. I am now working on a book proposal. I hope to have the book submitted to a university press by the end of the summer. Otherwise, several of the students who presented posters are working on transforming their research into articles and/or dissertation projects.
In order to disseminate news about our activities, I have maintained a website throughout the process, which will remain online. The address is here: The website has my course syllabus, reading lists, bios of all the speakers, and abstracts for all of the contributions. While I am working on publication of the event, the draft papers themselves are on a password protected page and available upon request. Eventually, the main way of disseminating our work will be through the publication of an edited volume.
Advice to your Colleagues:
This was my first time teaching a graduate seminar and I wanted to model to students that coursework can have concrete outcomes for research beyond the classroom. For instance, I used the course as a way to train students for professional writing, including book reviews and journal articles instead of regular term papers. Convening this conference was a way to model this philosophy for my students and myself after the course had finished -- their intellectual contributions helped frame the event and make it a success. Beyond this, they were able to see how teaching and research can be interconnected for myself as a young faculty member, which is a valuable lesson to learn as an advanced graduate student.
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