GeMANE 4 was a continuation of GeMANE 1 (held in Helsinki, Finland, in October 2014), GeMANE 2 (held in Barcelona, Spain, in February 2017), and GeMANE 3 (held in Ghent, Belgium, in April 2019). Although the event is conceived as a biannual conference, the COVID19 pandemic shifted GeMANE 4 on-line for 2021, and GeMANE 5 will be held in Helsinki June 1-3, 2022.
The organising and scientific committee of GeMANE 4 (in alphabetical order) consisted of Megan Cifarelli (Manhattanville College, USA), Katrien De Graef (Ghent University, Belgium), Agnès Garcia-Ventura (University Autònoma of Barcelona, Spain), Heidi Kovanen (University of Helsinki, Finland), Evelien Vanderstraeten (University of Helsinki, Finland), and Saana Svärd (University of Helsinki, Finland), who acted as Chair of the committee.
GeMANE 4 lasted two days and featured 29 communications delivered by scholars from various universities in fifteen countries, namely, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Each speaker was asked to deliver the communication in 5 minutes, leaving ample time for discussion. This was greatly appreciated by all participants, who took active part in lively and fruitful debates revolving mainly around methodological and theoretical approaches to gender within the framework of ancient Near Eastern studies. As in the previous meetings, the atmosphere was collegial and friendly, despite some healthy differences of opinion.
The scientific program was organised in four thematic sessions:
- “Labels and their impact on the present and future of gender research” chaired by Omar N’Shea and Allison K. Thomason
- “Gender, Family Relations, and Intersectionality” chaired by Kristine Garroway and Brigitte Lion
- “Reading against the grain” chaired by Ann Guinan and Laura Mazow
- “Relationships and networks” chaired by Amy Gansell and Niek Veldhuis
This scientific program was followed by a well-attended social program. The first day the participants watched together the public performance of a Sumerian literary debate between two women staged in November 2020 by the Zipang collective in the framework of the “Being a Human Festival” (London). After the performance the audience enjoyed the short talk “’Are you a woman?!’ Thoughts on how to communicate research on gender in the Ancient Near East to the public” by Jana Matuszak (Universität Tübingen, Germany), responsible for the editio princeps of the Sumerian text and instigator of the performance. The social event was hosted by Katrien De Graef, creator of the “Are You a Woman?!” themed drinks. The second day the participants met in a more relaxed and casual atmosphere in the wonder.me platform customized as the Royal Palace of Mari. The website of the conference can be found behind this link.
The organisers and participants of GeMANE 5 are already looking forward to the next meeting, hopefully in person! We hope to have the chance to see you in Helsinki in a June of 2022!