Sunday, July 12, 2009

CFP: Girls in Antiquity, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin, 8 - 10 October 2010

This conference is about girls, from early Neolithic times to Late Antiquity, within the geographical limits of Europe, Egypt, and the Ancient Near East.

The following range of topics will be addressed :

Definition. "Girls" are female children and teenagers, who have not yet received the status of an adult woman. In contemporary German society this status is legally achieved by the age of 18, socially by economic independence (with a proper job) or by biological reproduction (own children). But which were the specific cultural rites de passages for the transition of female children to adulthood in antiquity ? Was it the wedding as a rule, as is suggested by literary sources both from Greece and Rome ? For prehistoric societies, however, an institution like marriage can only to be postulated.

Birth-/Family planning. "Lost girls" are a phenomenon peculiar to contemporary society, most notably in Asian countries : female fetuses are aborted because of their sex, female newborns are killed or so badly cared for, that they do not survive. Was there anything comparable in ancient cultures ? And if so, what kind of sources can account for such a practice ? What do we know at all about mortality of female children and the handling of the deceased ?

Development of gender identity. Were children introduced to social roles early on according to their biological sex ? Classical Athenian art for example represents children shortly after crawling age in a gender specific way. Are there any cultures that classified children as asexual creatures at an early age ? And if so, until what age was it customary to do so ?

Material culture and social practice. What kind of clothing, hairdo, jewelry, or make-up was characteristic for girls in specific cultures ? What kind of objects did they handle and which social practices did they perform ? In which social spaces were they supposed to stay ? What c n we deduce from the evidence with regard to the scopes of girls in different cultures or to their own thoughts, wishes and beliefs ?

Discourse. Which discourses about girls can be conceived on the basis of literary and archaeological sources ? In our society infant girls are much more sexualized than boys of the same age (e.g. by clothing, which emphasizes female attraction or on the contrary explicitly veils it, such as the scarf). Does this already apply to antiquity and how can we prove it ? A further modern phenomenon is the devaluation of girls' culture to that of boys, resulting from general gender hierarchy. (A girl playing football may be something special in the positive sense - but a boy dreaming of pink dresses, is probably embarrasing for his parents.) How was this issue perceived in ancient cultures ?

Research and media. At first sight, girls seem to be the big invisibles in research, twice marginalized because of their sex and their age, their status of "not yet". Is that true ? And what about the presence and depiction of (pre)historic girls in popular media, such as schoolbooks or movies ?

Contributions. We are looking for papers from ancient historians, philologists and archaeologists, and explicitly also from young scholars. Contributions from other disciplines such as social or educational sciences or ethnology are very welcome, provided they contribute to a better understanding of concepts or girlhood in antiquity.

Papers presentations are limited to 30 minutes followed by a discussion of 15 minutes. Conference languages are German and English. Proposals with working title, an abstract of maximum 250 words as well as address and a short academic CV should be sent via email by 31st October 2009 to the organizers :

Dr. Susanne Moraw
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
Podbielskiallee 69-71
14195 Berlin

Anna Kieburg, M.A.
Institut für Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie der Universität Bonn
Am Hofgarten 21
53113 Bonn

Organisation. The conference will be organized by "FemArc. Network of women in archaeology" ( and is taking place 8th-10th October 2010 at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin.

Subject to our funding expenses for travel and accommodation might be refundable. Further information concerning the program will be provided by the end of 2009. Publication of the conference is planned in the series "Frauen - Forschung - Archäologie" (