Saturday, January 29, 2011

Joint Family Systems in the Ancient World

Joint Family Systems in the Ancient World
The editors of a new volume of collected essays focussing on the
extended family, multigenerational households and familial
obligations beyond the nuclear family in the ancient world invite
English language submissions from interested scholars worldwide.
Submitted abstracts will be anonymously refereed.

The volume seeks to shift the traditional focus from the nuclear to
the extended family and thereby correct a perceived imbalance in the
study of the ancient family. Saller and Shaw in their ground-breaking
study of tombstones from the Roman West argued that “the linguistic
and legal material alone might lead us to downgrade the significance
of the nuclear family.” Even though they were careful in drawing
conclusions about actual household composition from the relationships
mentioned in these funerary texts, they raised the “reasonable
hypothesis that the … nuclear family …was characteristic of many
regions of western Europe as early as the Roman Empire.” (Saller, R.
P. and B. D. Shaw (1984), ‘Tombstones and Roman Family Relations in
the Principate: Civilians, Soldiers and Slaves’, JRS 74: 124-56: see
145-6). Although several scholars have subsequently raised doubts
about their conclusions, their theory has served as basis and
reference point in virtually all publications o!
n the Western Roman family since the publication of their article
25 years ago.

The themes considered in the proposed volume will centre on the
exploration of the complexity and variety of kin structures in the
ancient world. How important and significant were extended kin
relations? How were they configured or understood? Did the nuclear
family household represent the norm in Antiquity or did more
complexextended and multi-family households have a greater
prevalence? How much did regional, social and temporal variation
affect these issues?

The editors encourage a wide range of submissions, chronologically,
geographically, and in terms of methodology and subject matter. Any
period of antiquity, from 3500 BCE to 641 CE is actively sought;
cultures from the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome and the
broader Mediterranean region are welcomed. Possible topics may
include, but are certainly not limited to:

•Household composition and family structure in the ancient world

•The epistemology and anthropology of extended family

•Multi-family households

•Nuclear vs. extended families

•Family beyond the household

•The archaeology of extended kin

•The idealisation of extended family

Final submissions should be between 4000 to 6000 words in length.
Please send expressions of interest, along with abstracts (not
exceeding 500 words) to Sabine Huebner:; or to
Geoffrey Nathan:
by 31 January 2011.

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