Monthly Archives: September 2016

Introducing “Anticlericalism in comparative perspective: China and West Europe”

By Junqing Wu (Organiser and Past & Present Junior Research Fellow) “Anticlericalism in comparative perspective: China and West Europe” will take place at the Institute of Historical Research on 8th October. The Workshop is kindly supported by the Past and Present Society and the Institute of Historical Research. The workshop seeks to explore the relationship between anticlerical discourse and the role of religion in society by putting anticlericalism in a broader historical and cultural context. It explores the topic of anticlericalism in a comparative manner; situating it as a critical element in social and cultural life of both China and western Europe. “Clergy” in the Chinese context means ordained Buddhist monks, nuns and Taoist priests, Buddhism and Taoism being the two main state-recognised institutional religions. In Europe, of course, it refers to the Christian priesthood and monastic orders. China and western Europe differed greatly in religious/ritual beliefs and practices, in the role of institutional religions and in the social status of the clergy, but anticlericalism existed in both cultures. Moreover, anticlerical satires in both cultures share certain motifs, including tropes of a lecherous and venal clergy. Is this historical coincidence, or an illustration of similar social forces at work? We […]

Introducing “Tea with the Sphinx”

By Ellie Dobson & Nicola Tonks (Organising Committee) The third annual Birmingham Egyptology Symposium was held at the University of Birmingham in February 2016. The event was entitled ‘Ancient Egypt: Looking Out and Looking In’, and brought together Egyptologists at the University and Birmingham and elsewhere in order to share their research. Dr David Gange, a historian at the University of Birmingham whose work on the nineteenth-century development of disciplines such as Egyptology and archaeology is well known, gave the keynote address. A number of Dr Gange’s students were in attendance, and in the course of one particular panel, where the speakers hailed from historical backgrounds rather than Egyptology, it became apparent that the questions which historians had brought to the symposium were different from those raised by Egyptologists. This particular panel left us with more questions than answers about the ways in which ancient Egypt has been consumed, used, and appropriated by the British throughout history. While discussing the questions we had we light-heartedly suggested that perhaps we should organise our own conference seeking to address these questions: *Why has Egypt succeeded in capturing the popular imagination in ways that no other ancient civilisation has? *How did ancient Egypt […]