Two projects supporting the Utrecht strategic theme Institutions: understanding the dynamics of open societies and the OIKOS Gravity Programme Anchoring Innovation focus on institutional change in Late Antiquity. They are listed as a and b in the domain Philosophy and Religion.
The prime objective of this research project, funded by NWO, is to reconfigure the classical notion of Diaspora by means of a thorough, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of a carefully selected set of Jewish Diasporic communities in the Mediterranean and Near East during the late antique and early medieval periods (200-700 C.E.). Using a wide array of primary source materials and research methodologies, this project aims at documenting how the classical notion of Diaspora evolved to the extent that this particular concept acquired some of its most essential characteristics precisely during the late antique period. By studying these developments against the larger backdrop of a major late antique systemic change during which religion became the single most important marker of difference in intergroup interactions, this project seeks to contribute to current debates in the area of Diaspora studies, to studies on the role of religion to enforce in-group solidarity and complicate out-group relations in Diaspora-settings, as well as to discussions on the position of modern-day Diaspora communities in our own midst. To understand this problematic, the project investigates how new identity politics are forged by anchoring them in significant markers, notably religion.