The past is a contested space where memories, meanings and habitation are negotiated, constructed and claimed.
Through researching, interpreting, and recording the past, privilege is created and maintained, conferring a sense of possession. Who can claim to be the rightful owner of an ancient past?
Ancient world researchers constantly construct the past from physical remains, material objects, literary and other texts. Such intimate knowledge creates a powerful possessiveness towards a past that is simultaneously valued and jealously guarded. Are archaeologists, ancient historians or classicists privileged over other claimants, such as contemporary novelists and film-makers?
How valid are the claims of modern populations to the ancient pasts of their homelands or ancestors? Fractious arguments over the repatriation of objects and human remains continue: governments, cultural organisations, indigenous communities, and the public all claim the rights of possession over the material past. For contemporary indigenous communities worldwide, possessing the past is not merely the right to tell a story or display an object. It is the right to recognition, self-determination and often survival, despite past colonial brutality. Possessing the past is political. It is also personal and emotional. The power of possession and the concept of ownership is the theme of the 2014 AMPHORA issue of the MHJ.
As scholars of the past in various disciplines, we must constantly contend with the fact that we are considerably displaced from our subject matter temporally, socially, and culturally. This displacement predicates the necessity of narrativisation – the construction of discourse in order to make a meaningful telling from an assortment of facts. For both classics and archaeology, there has been a recognition that texts can be interpreted through many frameworks, destabilising the notion of ‘authentic’, purely objective meaning.
Narrative is transformative in that objects and texts are put it into words, and the way these words are organized is specific to one’s aim in verbalizing the past. The author chooses to describe objects and texts in a certain way, adding or subtracting specific details depending on what he/she wishes to say about it.
Moreover, text is often privileged at the expense of other types of experience, itself generating a simulated experience. The past is easily constructed by manipulating the description of elements in a narratival sequence that would be easily understood by the recipients of the information.
The theme of narrativisation will be address by our feature articles in the forthcoming publication of The Amphora Issue of MHJ.
The best reviews teach the reader something about the field in addition to announcing and describing the book. A good review places the targeted book in the context of its field, shows its importance, place, historical or social function, what it offers and does not offer, and any connection to trends in the field. It may identify the academic or philosophical lineage of the author, the identity of the school of thought represented by the book, the place of the book’s ideology in the philosophical continuum of the field, or some other quality of the book placed against the texture of the field. When presented in this fashion, the reader learns not only about the book under review, but also about the field.
Robin W. Erwin, Jr, ‘Reviewing Books for Scholarly Journals’, in Writing and Publishing for Academic Authors, eds. Joseph Michael Moxley, Todd V. Taylor, Todd Taylor (USA: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), 85.
Book Reviews for the 2013 Amphora Issue are due 31 August. Potential books for review must have a publication date within the last two years. See Book Reviews for more details.
Final Submissions for the 2013 publication of The Amphora Issue of MHJ are due at the end of the month!
Dr Gillian Shepherd’s address at the launch of Classical Re-Conceptions is now available to read online under Publications - Classical Re-Conceptions
The editorial collective wish to thank Dr Gillian Shepherd for her support of the journal.
The Amphora Issue Editorial Collective is formed each year from postgraduates and early career researchers. We are very please to announce our new 2013 Editorial Collective:
Head Editors: Sarah Davidson and Dr. Sonya Wurster
Editors: Dr. Jessie Birkett-Rees, Kyle Conrau-Lewis, Dianne Fitzpatrick, Leanne Grech, Christopher Hale, Damjan Krsmanovic, Sarah Midford and Larissa Tittl.