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The Heritage of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East

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The Image of the Good Shepherd – Modes of Governance in Antiquity

Thirteenth Workshop of the Melammu Project
25-26 May 2021

Organisers: Philippe Abrahami, Stéphanie Anthonioz and Claudia Horst

The following documents are available:

- updated workshop program;

- workshop poster.

The links to access are in the program and on the poster.

The schedule is given at Paris time (GMT + 2:00)

The “Good Shepherd” is a well-known figure from ancient sources. We find the image not only in cuneiform, hieroglyphic and alphabetic texts, but also in visual representations. The aim of the Workshop was to free the image from its normative and ideological context, in which it was primarily used to legitimize the ruler. To do this, we referred to Foucault’s concept of pastoral power and his concept of governmentality developed from it. Both concepts investigate the modes of governance within political, military, cultural, social and religious contexts. The history of governmentality is inextricably interwoven with the history of counter-movements and the resistance directed against all possible forms of governing or leading. Against this background, the Workshop could display that the image of the good shepherd was not only used to legitimize, but also to question and criticize various authorities within society. Furthermore, the concept of pastoral power provided an insight into the negotiation processes that take place between rulers and ruled in the dispute over the forms of government acceptable to both sides.

13th Melammu Workshop