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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 1037: Visions of Community, I: What's in a Name? - Ethnonyms and Identity in Early Medieval Eurasia

Wednesday 6 July 2016, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Sonderforschungsbereich 42 'Visions of Community', Universität Wien / DOC-Team ‘Ethnonyme im Vergleich’ / Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Organisers:Odile Kommer, Institut für Sozialanthropologie, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Salvatore Liccardo, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Moderator/Chair:Helmut Reimitz, Department of History, Princeton University
Paper 1037-aSetting Boundaries: 'Barbaric' Ethnonyms between Geography and Imperial Ideology
(Language: English)
Salvatore Liccardo, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities, Rhetoric
Paper 1037-bLabel or Libel?: The Ethnonym 'Saxo' in the Latin Textual Record, 300-900
(Language: English)
Robert Flierman, Afdeling Geschiedenis, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Latin
Paper 1037-cTurks as Eurasian Nomads in Medieval Islamic Sources
(Language: English)
Zsuzsanna Zsidai, Institute of History, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Islamic and Arabic Studies

Ethnonym - i.e. names applied to ethnic groups - contain a plethora of meanings that go far beyond the seeming neutral appellation of 'Franks', 'Goths', or even 'Romans'. This means that ethnonyms are not only interesting terms in their own right, since they suggest a wide variety of ways to represent groups in relation to their land or language, but they also serve as constructing devices in cultural discourse. Drawing upon case studies from the Late Roman period until the 10th century and from both Latin and Arabic perspectives the speakers will address ethnonyms as conceptual tools, which have been used to adapt, shape or enforce particular ideas of communities and specific political agendas. It will shed new light on the way ethnonyms function as cognitive strategies in order to make sense of both the 'Self' and the 'Other'. Following a debate on how ethnonyms can function, on a wider level, as elements of Late Roman and Early Medieval 'sense of place' and imperial rhetoric, the session will later concentrate on literary and political implications of two specific ethnonyms: 'Saxons' and 'Turks'.