The Spring conference schedule is jam-packed this year! Two more interesting events:
Shifting Frontiers VIII is being hosted by Indiana University, April 2-5, 2009. The focus this year will be on "Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity". It looks good albeit with predictable panels on the typical Late Antique topics: Letters (II), the body (III), cultural negotiation between religious groups (IV), identity (V), ritual (VI), memory (VII), "material culture" (IX), historiography and cultural representation (X), imperial power (Xb), and the frontier (XI). All and all, the panels provide a nice survey of the pressing issues in scholarship on Late Antiquity.
At the same exact time, the Roman Archaeology Conference (RAC) will occur at the University of Michigan including an interesting panel on the "Troubled Adolescence of Late Antique Studies...", Cam Grey's paper in this panel has particular relevance to our work on Cyprus (Stuck in the Middle: Between Grand Theory and the Case Study in the Countrysides of Late Antiquity). Another interesting panel will focus on comparative approaches to the archaeology of the Roman rural landscape.
It's perhaps instructive to note where the two conferences overlap even though it is always difficult and dangerous to judge a book by the cover or a panel by the titles and abstracts of the papers. They both show marked interest in issues of identity, particularly of groups on the periphery, and various forms of representation and reception - particularly as related to urban culture or elite power. Both conferences also consider the relationship between religion and ritual in a Roman context. Other than that there was not as much overlap as one might hope. The RAC had relatively little interest in the archaeology of the body or, at least explicitly, in the issue of authority, which has become an important topic of discussion for scholars of the Late Antique world. Shifting Frontiers, for their part, showed little sustained or systematic interest in the Late Roman economy in the countryside or the city (outside of the panel on "material culture"). Curiously, Shifting Frontiers has almost nothing, explicitly on epigraphy even though inscriptions marked one of the key ways that scholars have observed the conflicting, overlapping, and complementary spheres of influence produced through languages.
Both conferences look interesting and it is always valuable to see how the lines are drawn in the discipline between archaeologists and historians, Romanists and Late Romanists, scholars of culture and scholars of material culture, et c.