“Since , O Mazda from the beginning, Thou didst create soul and body, mental power and knowledge , and since Thou didst bestow to mankind the power to act , speak and guide , you wished that everyone should chose their own faith and path freely.”

Zaratostra - Yasna 31, Verse 11

One who always thinks of his own safety and profit, how can he love the joy-bringing Mother Earth? The righteous man that follows Asha's Law shall dwell in regions radiant with Thy Sun, the abode where wise ones dwell.”

Zaratostra Yasna, Verse 2

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Abstract for the conference by Caroline Tully
Researching the Past, is a Foreign Country:  Cognitive Dissonance as a response by practitioner Pagans to academic research on the history of Pagan religions.        
Neo-Paganism is an umbrella term for an increasingly popular cluster of new religions whose adherents are to be found primarily in the UK, USA and Australia. A movement that consciously looks to the past and claims to revive the ancient religious practices of pre-Christian Europe, Neo-Paganism has always been dependent upon academic scholarship—particularly history, archaeology and anthropology—in its project of self-fashioning. Dependant primarily upon late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship, Neo-Pagans vociferously reject more recent research, especially when it contradicts earlier findings, perceiving it as threatening to their structure of beliefs and sense of identity. Not only do the results of such scholarship traumatise Neo-Pagans—however unwittingly on the scholars’ part—in some cases it rebounds upon the researchers themselves when Neo-Pagans seek to traumatise the scholars, the “bearers of bad news”, in return. This paper will present case studies which display the contested nature of the past by highlighting the combative interaction between Neo-Pagans and academic researchers at three types of site-as-stage: the archaeological excavation, the museum and the text, and explain how the performers fail to communicate as a result of speaking different “languages”. It will also discuss the infusion into Neo-Paganism of hybrid vigour through the activities of the Pagan Studies scholar, a researcher in the role of participant-observer, who functions as a “go-between”, easing the sense of resentment by Neo-Pagans toward the perceived 
colonisation of their religion by “hackademics”.

Caroline Tully is a PhD student working on a thesis about sacred trees in
the prehistoric Aegean, Cyprus and Israel, under the supervision of
Associate Professor Louise Hitchcock. Caroline comes to academia from over
twenty years prior involvement in contemporary Pagan religions. Her
Postgraduate Diploma thesis, 'Spiritual Egyptomania: The Hermetic Order of
the Golden Dawn', was an attempt to critique and subsequently purge this
relationship from her psyche. Nevertheless, Caroline cannot resist the
lure of academic Pagan Studies and also continues to publish on aspects
Neo-Paganism for a popular audience.

 A message from Caroline recommending a book. Thanks Caroline

Hi Mammad, 

You can post this book recommendation to the BLOG site too, if
you like. I just thought I'd suggest a book for the 'The Site is a Stage' group. I
beleve Louise did mention it at the first meeting.

It is 'Theatre/Archaeology' by Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks and is
available as a free download from Michael Shanks' website here:

He has lots of his books available there.

OK, back to working on my abstract now.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Abstract for the Symposium by Associate Professor Louise A. Hitchcock

Archaeology and Sedimented Identities:
Trauma, Migration, and Performativity in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean
While we tend to think practically of distance as something that can be measured in time and space, distance can also be conceptual in terms of the time and obstacles actually encountered in transcending it, and it can be cultural through the confrontation with ‘Otherness.’ I plan to explore conceptual and cultural distance in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700-1180 BCE), in terms of how identity was acted out through performativity, as well as how identity was affected by violence, migration, and diaspora. Although this period is frequently treated as a seamless progression, it was punctuated by moments of violence and destruction, both natural and cultural. Little work has been done on the human toll taken by these events, which are frequently treated as stylistic categories of art that signal the passage of time.  Thus, such events have not been adequately explored as moments or sites of human trauma and identity formation.  As a preliminary exploration of these issues, I will consider destructions caused by the volcanic eruption of Thera (ca. 1614 BCE), and the violent destructions of the Minoan (ca. 1470/1450 BCE. Crete) and the Mycenaean civilisations (ca. 1180 BCE, Greece). In this pilot study, I will engage with modern ethnohistory and ethnography as an analog for raising questions about how ancient events affected individuals who can only speak to us through the material and spatial residues of their culture.

Louise Hitchcock is Associate Professor of Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology and Chair of the Classics and Archaeology Program at the University of Melbourne. Louise also has a minor in social theory and she has written many books and articles exploring the relationship between archaeology and theory. Her current research deals with Aegean, Cypriot, and Levantine connections, particularly Philistine identity and its Aegean connections. The Australian Research Council funds her excavations at the Philistine site of Tell es-Safi/Gath.

> I'm just taking notes for my Abstract for 'The Site is a Stage'
> conference, which I hope to have finished and sent to you either Monday or
> Tuesday this week, and I'm reading through the blog from the beginning.
> Seeing as there are excursions planned to places around Melbourne, I
> thought I would recomend the Chinese "See Yup Temple" in South Melbourne.
> It is situated right near where I worked for 14 years at the Australian
> Tapestry Workshop and many people do not know about it. It is very
> interesting though. Here is some info.
> See Yup Temple, South Melbourne (Victoria) (1856 - )
> http://www.chia.chinesemuseum.com.au/biogs/CH00027b.htm
> From 1856
> Details
> The Chinese temple in South Melbourne (then called Emerald Hill) was built
> in 1856 by the See Yup Society. In 1866 it was rebuilt and enlarged. The
> temple cost over four thousand pounds to construct and was funded by
> compulsory donations from Society members. The names of more than a
> thousand donors are inscribed on two stone tablets at the Temple. As the
> Society is legally a non-entity the six titles covering the temple land
> are held in the names of six individual trustees. The remainder of the
> donated money was invested in two properties in Little Bourke Street.
> Still standing today, it was built as a meeting place for members but also
> includes two altars for worship and three memorial halls. The memorial
> halls hold over 13,000 tablets in commemoration of members who died and
> are buried somewhere in Victoria between 1850 to the present day. The
> Society held at least eight major religious services with offerings each
> year and the temple was open for all to visit or worship at all times.
> Although a temple it was not granted any rate exemptions for being a place
> of worship despite attempts in 1860 and 1912 until the early 1960s.
> The financial organisation of the See Yup temples in Ballarat, Bendigo,
> Castlemaine, Beechworth and a number of other country towns were modelled
> on the South Melbourne temple. Each local See Yup society bought land
> whose title was held under the name of one or more trustees and built the
> temple.
> ~Caroline.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Notes from Joy - Lyn

Dear Mammad,

Thank you for the email and reading. I have been through it with interest
as I am familiar with the area involved and knew it well before it became
'gentrified'. It is interesting not only from the indigenous perspective
but also from the white observations and involvement. The areas
surrounding Fitzroy,that comprise of Victoria Park, Clifton Hill,East
Melbourne, Carlton and Brunswick were classified and defined by certain
streets, and it was these streets that defined the socio-economic profile
of the residents.It should also be pointed out that within the heartland
of these areas was a large factory area producing shoes and cigarettes, an
industrial part,townhouses for country gentry and city professionals.
Running through the centre, Gertrude street that formed the centrepiece of
a man called Wren's betting and gambling places. Reviled by some and
embraced by others, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic church, Dr.Daniel
Mannix of Raheen fame was one who apparently was endowed from some of the
proceeds! The court case involving Wren's sons lingers on after the book
written by Frank Hardy about the exploits was deemed to be defamatory.
The gardens at the exhibition building site at the end of Gertrude Street
was home to the methylated spirits drinkers, and Nicholoson Street had
many Chinese herbalists as well as rooming houses for people of limited
means.Smith Street had the major department stores and catered for all
means levels.
The community housing has gone from poor whites to aboriginals to
Vietnamese to Russians over the decades, and the left leaning were the
trade unionists who were not part of the Carlton intelligentsia.
So you can see that the area has a rich  and varied history.
I do not think that I will be able to come to the dinner as I have my
confirmation meeting for transfer to PhD papers to be delivered on Monday,
and I have had my head down.
Let me know if you want any further information and all the best for the
dinner, if I can make it I will, otherwise give my apologies.

Best regards, Joy-lyn