Leeds IMC 2020 "Borders": CFP - "Building and Crossing Social Boundaries in Viking Age and Medieval Scandinavia and Iceland"

deadline for submissions: 
August 12, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Keith Ruiter (University of Nottingham) and Alexander J. Wilson (Universität Tübingen)

Panels to be submitted to Leeds IMC 2020

Organisers: Keith Ruiter (University of Nottingham) and Alexander J. Wilson (Universität Tübingen)

Modern audiences can often view the “Viking World” as a socially homogenous space, but sources that reflect the period, both textual and material, suggest a greater complexity. Whilst the medieval laws of Scandinavia might delineate more definitely between legal and illegal activity, literary, historical, and archaeological sources introduce a substantial degree of ambiguity to these matters. Such sources suggest that the establishment of social boundaries requires an awareness, and even the creation, of potential transgressors, at least in an imagined sense, against whom “normative” values and structures can be more definitely established. Likewise, the transgression of “normative” values itself requires the often ambiguous relationship between the “normative” and the “other” to be made more definite, in order for such transgressions to carry meaning as “transgressions”. The concept of social boundaries being crossed is therefore fundamental to the continuous creation and reaffirmation of these borders. To build a boundary, one must imagine a transgressor; for it to be crossed, its presence must be acknowledged.

Such delineations are, of course, not fixed: we see social boundaries as being in flux, as shifting spaces in which identities are continuously negotiated. The intent of this collaboration is to use this understanding of how social boundaries are constructed and crossed as a starting point to develop more accurate pictures of the various ways in which such borders were formed and maintained in Viking Age and medieval Scandinavia and Iceland. Recognising and emphasising the plurality and ongoing negotiation of social boundaries serves not only to give a more accurate historical view of these societies, but also to humanise the past for modern audiences.

This approach to the idea of social boundaries inherently cuts across disciplinary borders. We welcome contributions from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to: archaeology, history, literary studies, religious studies, and anthropology. Suggested topics include:

–        Legitimations and illegitimations of violence through social norms

–        The creation and re-creation of “normativity” and “otherness”

–        Doorways, gateways, thresholds, and other spaces of boundary-crossing

–        Changing demarcations of gender, sex, and sexuality

–        Negotiations of social concepts, e.g. justice and injustice, honour and dishonour

–        Relationships between social boundaries and physical / geographical borders

–        Ethnic, regional, national, and localised boundaries and identities

–        (Supposed) delineations of identity, e.g. human and non-human, living and dead

–        Uses and abuses of the past in modern reception of medieval societies

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words to be sent to keith.ruiter@nottingham.ac.uk by Monday 12 August, with a view to confirming the panels by early September. Please direct any queries to keith.ruiter@nottingham.ac.uk and alexander.wilson@philosophie.uni-tuebingen.de.