“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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abstract for the Symposium by Dr Dvir Abramovich

Aussie Sabras: The Israeli migrant community in Melbourne

While the state of Israel was established to allow Jews to end their perennial narrative of wandering and persecution in the Diaspora, since its founding in 1948 more than one million Israelis have chosen to go abroad and settle there.  Given that Israel was built on the pillars of immigration, Israeli emigrants encompass within their midst a complex and variegated array of identities, as well as multivalent links to social groups within and outside Israel. The latest figures from the Israeli Interior Ministry report that there are about 20,000 Israelis living in Australia and it is this group that forms the centre of this presentation.
 It is lamentable that there are almost no local studies of the Israeli emigrant population, perhaps owing to the thorny and controversial nature surrounding the subject matter of Israelis leaving their homeland. As such, a broad spectrum of themes and issues associated with this community has not been scrutinized by the academic community.

The focus of this paper will be to examine the small sized, highly westernized Israeli migrant population in Melbourne, which at present constitutes the largest community of Israelis in Australia. Analysed and dissected will be issues such as: reasons for emigration, models of economic adaptation, the relationship between the Israeli community and the local Jewish community, the durable connections to the country of origins, patterns of communal organization and ethnic and religious identity. Based on ethnographic materials, the paper weaves together theories from the extensive field of migration and Diaspora studies.

Dr. Dvir Abramovich is the Jan Randa Senior Lecturer in Hebrew & Jewish studies and Director of The University of Melbourne Centre for Jewish History and Culture. He was president of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies for 5 years and editor of the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, the only peer-reviewed journal in Australia devoted to the field of Judaic studies for eight years. A regular contributor to national media, he is co- editor of the book Testifying to the Holocaust (2008) and author of the book Back to the FutureIsraeli Litearture of the 1980s and 1990s published in 2010.

Abstract for the Symposium by Associate Professor Gocha Tsetskhladze

'Colonial Encounters': Ancient Greeks Overland

Contacts between Greeks and locals come in different shapes and sizes and
were transmitted in a variety of ways - objects, ideas, practices,
lifestyles, etc. - and different societies showed different ways of
accepting and displaying new ideas. What they accepted, they did so
deliberately because the new had to complement something already existing
within the receiving/accepting society. The question is always that of who
initiated the process. I shall explore the situation in the Mediterranean
and the Black Sea, focusing on prestige objects in local societies as well
as Greek features in the architecture of local settlements, sculpture.

Gocha Tsetskhladze is a Classical Archaeologist with two doctorates
(Moscow and Oxford). He is a specialist in the archaeology of the
Mediterranean, Anatolia and the Black Sea in the Archaic and Classical
periods, Greek colonisation, the relationship between Greeks and locals,
etc. He has published over 250 articles, chapters and books. He is founder
and editor-in-chief of the journal Ancient West & East and its monograph
supplement, Colloquia Antiqua. He has excavated extensively around the
Black Sea and is now Director of the University of Melbourne Excavations
at Pessinus in Central Anatolia.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A few observations about Carlton Housing Estates's Harmony Day

 On 17 March 2011, the Research Network participated in Harmony Day Ceremonies at the Carlton Housing Estates at the Suggestion of one of our members, Dr. Sara Wills. The Carlton Housing Estates is a planned development to supply housing to the disadvantaged, located in the middle of a neighbourhood surrounded by Melbourne University and gentrified upscale housing. Harmony Day, celebrates diversity in Australia.

Research Network Members Mammad Aidani, James Oliver, and Louise Hitchcock enjoy the festivities

The day featured various cultural events such as African drumming and a dance troupe from the Vietnamese community, Kurdish and Turkish residents, Somalian women groups and many others. There were very lively activities on the Housing Estate Centres Around the Childrens' Playground

Adam Bandt, the Green Pary Federal MP for Melbourne spoke of the changing ethnic landscape in Melbourne, which has more recent migrants than any Australian city. We were struck by the point that he stayed around to speak with the community long after the soundbite moment and photo op ended.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photos From Harmony Day in Carlton

Harmony Day on Thursday 17 March at the Carlton Residence,  the following is a short report written by Louise and I am sending it before attaching the images that follow.

Hi Mammad,

Here are a few more photos with short captions for the blog - Louise

There were a number of marquee's at Harmony Day and this textile tent occupies the space where a shipping container once served as a site of community theatre  that Mammad worked with the Carlton residents to create a play in last year's community arts project called Light House.

Colourful dancers from the Vietnamese community were a vibrant presence at the festivities

Community residents and children participating in face painting line up for sausages.

A representative of the Wurundjuri community welcomed us to country

School of Historical and Philosophical Studies Research Day

SHAPS Research Day 22 Oct 2010

Session 3. Research Networks: (27 people present)
Prof. Andy May: These schemes will continue to be funded by Faculty
1. Multi-Disciplinary (Australian Studies, Classics and Archaeology, Theater Studies, Anthropology, Jewish Studies, Art History) The Site is a Stage/The Stage is a Site: Archaeology and the Narration of Transcultural Identities: Preliminary Report on a Cross-Disciplinary Research Network
Dr. Mammad Aidani: conversational: presented  his background and discussed how collaboration came about. He mentioned that his evolved in cultural theory and hermeneutic philosophy and psychology, also a playwright involved with various migrant and minority communities in Victoria and overseas.  He highlighted that his activities have been embraced in Australia. Mammad said that his plays have been written in Persian along with 8 in English.
In his presentations he addressed that his is interested in how the City engages the other for example the Middle Eastern communities here and abroad both in the past and present. He emphasized that there  are many aspects of our narratives that are both visible and invisible when we tell them to others. He disused the importance of knowing how the stories appear and  are performed in the context of the city, particularly with regard to suffering and trauma. He said we mostly  focus on the refugee, but not on everyday experience of being in exile. He said he want us to think of  Melbourne as an exilic city as well which is not the case in most of our approached to studying refugees and migrants.  He said that many people live with the view of  themselves of being invisible and of feeling of being excluded:  He quoted Middle Eastern  and Iranians refugees saying that "They don't know where I come from and who I am." "I feel that they think we who are from Iran and the middle eastern-countries are barbarians and fanatics."  He said  that we need to pay more attention on the Language of narrators and the mythological reference the bring into their conversations when we study them. For example he said that there is a constant reference amongst Iranians that Cyrus the Great's cylinder of 580-529 BCE was the first human rights charter in order to let us know that they have a deep culture that knows what human right is and wish to defy the stigma that some people attached to them that Iranians never understand concept of human rights. He said that today's migrants go back to the past in order to find out who they are and as result resisting distress and social alienation. He said that symbols and signs have a huge impact on the way we need to imagine communities and the future. “Migrants have seen the monuments that form a great part of the history of their homeland. People refer to them whether or not they have seen them. Dead places still have profound meanings and evoke meaning. This is becoming more pronounced in the age of fundamentalism. There is a lot of references to the past in reference to the present” Mammad Said.
Prof. Peter Eckersall: English and Theatre program: speaking on behalf of himself and James Oliver in Anthropology. Theatre is a site to investigate things, not just stories, but embodied practices give us a way to investigate things with regard to specific practices, performance studies, esp. Shanks and Pearson Theatre/Archaeology: the re-articulating of fragments of the past as a real time event. The layers of the past being available to the present through the power of imagination, a process brought by Benjamin. Using Verbatim or Documentary or Political Theatre: reviving the world as a place to draw on through experience of place. Through a Japanese group called Port B where sites of the Tokyo Olympics were visited to create a perspective of the past by bringing it into the present. Elaborate performances that take place on a site, using the distribution mechanisms of a city through the experience of the truck driver. Field site for digging. Performing future memories with James Oliver and Sara Wills: Performance Cosmologies: Testament from the future and the past, through capturing stories from the past to create an archive of future memory in a way that isn't sentimental and romantic. Data taken out of the individual experience becomes a representational framework.

Dr. Felicity Harley-McGowan: Late Antique Ivories: Sites of Cross Cultural Referentialism. Hopes the group will assist her in thinking about her own work. A lot of attention in the last 10-20 years about breaking down the barriers that made this a traditional discipline, and getting away from particular types of material being within the domain of certain scholars, so it gets separated into categories and into different disciplines, which bring different questions and biases to the study of the Late Antique where we want to embrace all of that material and bring it into a more broad and fluid context. Felicity works with material of the pagan classes in Rome. Hinged ivory diptychs may have celebrated or recorded a significant event. Representation of pagan sacrifice is depicted on an elite object when pagan beliefs were under attack from Christianity. Christian elites are creating their own versions of these objects on elite goods and using a narrative language that pagan viewers would understand, but where there is a new context. Role of similar symbols plays a role within contemporary ancient audiences but with different ritual, religious, and cultural beliefs. Suicide depictions don't survive in Greco-Roman art, so look at the cringe issues regarding suicide in society at this time to develop an new visual vocabulary where models don't exist. Ivory workshops are responding to commissions regardless of the religion of the patron, which affects its meaning

Dr. Louise Hitchcock: Mammad is a muse for developing this project with his work on identity, trauma, ethnicity, and diaspora. I started the group to have the kind of conversations I had as a grad student. It is organized very loosely using the concept of the network metaphorically. It is not a system, using the term also metaphorically, coordination, with no centre.  Mammad and others are looking to the past to interpret the present. I'm looking to the present, to migrant, indigenous and traditional communities to understand the process of identity formation in the past, theorize diaspora, to give the voice to trauma in prehistory, to re-invigorate the study of the past and the evocation of memory. We are looking at new ways to interpret and view identity. We are open to having new participants. 

Joy-lyn Bell Ogilby is investigating the role of environment in the orientation of Mediterranean identity. How did trade negotiations result in relationships between traders and indigenous communities.  Movement in the ancient Mediterranean is not so different to the movement of layers of identities today with the amalgamation of culture. Is there a transportability of culture? Different priorities and currencies in occur in different circumstances. Different identities emerge depending on the context of family and community. Trade is a viable enterprise. Repression is a deterrent, trade is an exchange of culture and politics is the creation of hegemony. Food is the most fundamental marker of identity for structuring social relations and fostering communal identity. How is food prepared and maintained. Materiality is a leveler of ancient society. Time, space, and movement: each generation’s identity is defined by transportability and adaptability. Layers in interpretation pervade most discussion of archaeological remains. Clay is used by an archaeologist to identify time, place, culture: plastic may take this place today. Time has many layers

Marcia Nugent is examining the relationship between botanic motifs and Identity. Belief, Ritual and Trade: Move from form to botanic remains as having a structuring function in the construction of identity. For example, Spanish Vetchling: uniquely found at Akroitiri on a breasted jug that was ritual. Spanish vetchling exported to Tell Nami in Israel as a marker of identity, and evocative of memory and it's role in identity; smell, taste, and intoxication as evocative of identity, social connection, and identity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Abstract for the Symposium by Professor Aren Maeir

Title: "The Other, the Neighbor, or the Relative: Negotiating proximity in
the biblical world - the Israelites and Philistines as a case study"

The ongoing interaction between the neighboring cultures of the
Philistines and the Israelites during the Iron Age is portrayed through
various lenses. In the multi-layered biblical texts, a complex set of
relationships is seen, ranging from outright hostility (e.g. David and
Goliath), collaboration (David and Achish) to intermarriage (Samson and
Delilah). While the dominant motif in the biblical text is a negative image
of the Philistines (carried in to modern perspectives), it is clear that a
much more complicated interaction is indicated. Archaeological evidence from
the last decades, and in particular from the recent excavations at Tell
es-Safi/Gath (biblical Gath of the Philistines), have revealed evidence of
bi-directional and multi-faceted character of the interaction(s) between the
Philistine and Israelite cultures, adding depth, and deeper understanding,
to the "on the ground" reality hiding behind the biblical texts.

Aren M. Maeir is an associate professor of archaeology at the Martiz (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. He directs the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and co-directs the joint Bar-Ilan University/Weizmann Institute of Science Program in Archaeological Science.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear All,

The event 'Carlton Harmony Day' is taking place on Thursday 17 March at the Carlton Housing Estate. It starts from 3:30 pm and  goes till  8.00pm. Please be aware that it is a cultural event and there will be a lot  of activities going on so we won't have the usual opportunity for meeting over dinner. Sara says she hasn't got the full program yet, but will send it to me as soon as she can. She has also made a very good suggestion that we could arrive to the event as we like as long along as we can be there by 5.00-5.30 if possible. This is the  special time of the Indigenous welcome. After this we could perhaps go for dinner somewhere nearby maybe around 7.30 on Lygon Street.
It will be a great event and we hope you all could make it.
Kind Regards,