AMME Seminar on ‘Approaches to Social Life in the Middle East’ (22.09.22)

Please note that the first Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar of this fall will be organised as a hybrid event on Thursday 22 September, 16:15-18:00 EEST/Helsinki local time.

The seminar will consist of two papers – by Mohammed Shunnaq and by Tero Alstola and Adrianne Spunaugle – and end with a shared question round and discussion on ‘approaches to social life in the Middle East’. The topics of the talks are:

‘Anthropology of the Middle East: Tribe, Village, and the State: Shaping the Socio-political System of Jordan (Prof. Dr. Mohammed Shunnaq, Irbid, Jordan)

Jordanians are by nature tribal in their social relations and social organization. As the state was established and state policies applied, nomads faced obstacles that prevented them from continuing with their pastoral lifestyles. Even though the settlement of nomads was encouraged by the government and the nomad's traditional relationship to tribal territory decreased, the tribal social structure and organization stayed the same. This presentation explores the role of the tribe in the shaping of the structure of the socio-political system in the Jordanian State and examines to what extent the Jordanian State has been successful in modernizing the tribal structure of society.

‘Networking R: The Promise and Pitfalls of Using R to Analyze Ancient Social Networks’ (Dr. Tero Alstola & Dr. Adrianne Spunaugle, Helsinki, Finland)

Social Network Analysis (SNA) has become an increasingly popular method in humanities, including ancient Near Eastern studies. Thanks to user-friendly programs such as Gephi, the researcher can easily analyze and visualize networks without investing a lot of time in the learning process. However, these programs have their limitations, and many research projects may require both more flexible and more specialized features from the SNA software. Perhaps the most versatile solution is R, a programming language developed for statistical computing. In this presentation, two ancient historians introduce their joint SNA project, their motivations to start using R, and their first steps in writing code that seeks to reveal something about ancient social structures. We intend for this to be an interactive presentation, in which we encourage our colleagues to join us in discussing possible traps, tricks, and general commiseration in our statistical explorations.

All are welcome, so feel free to join us in person or online!

Time: Thursday 22 September at 16:15-18:00 EEST (UTC +03:00).

Live venue: Faculty hall, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor.

Zoom link: (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118).

Wonder what else is on the menu? Check out the fall program behind the link!