[this post was written by our Co-I Dr Jakob Engberg, Aarhus University]


January 8-10 we had the First Advisory Board Workshop in Sheffield. The workshop was attended by Hanns Christof Brennecke, John Drinkwater, Jill Harries, Uta Heil, Katie Hemer, Simon Loseby, Harry Mawdsley, Elisabeth O’Connell, Hannah Probert and the project team (Julia Hillner, Harry Mawdsley, Dirk Rohmann, Jörg Ulrich and myself, Jakob Engberg).

The main purpose of the workshop was twofold. Firstly to test a pilot version of the clerical exile database with a view to identifying where it needs improvement and secondly to give the advisory board, the project team and other invited scholars the chance to discuss how the database may benefit (and be designed to benefit) different research interests. The seminar was divided in four sessions.

In the first session Julia Hillner, Jörg Ulrich and I presented the project aims: To arrive at a better understanding of exile in terms of the reality and conditions of exile itself and its consequences. The three of us come to the research from three angles, Julia Hillner from the perspective of legal history, Jörg Ulrich from the perspective of the significance of exile for the dissemination of theological ideas and the development of dogma, I from a ‘cultural’ perspective, where the reactions on exile is in focus. In addition Dirk Rohmann presented the pilot version of the database and its potential for the making of tables, network graphs and maps. Finally Julia Hillner discussed the possibilities and some methodological pitfalls in the application of Social Network Analysis on material from antiquity in general and our material in particular.

In the second and third sessions chaired by Uta Heil and Simon Loseby we were offered four presentations. Firstly Hanns-Christof Brennecke discussed the role of synods in sending clerics in exile and in recalling them. Secondly Jill Harries discussed John Chrysostom’s letters to Olympias as sources for the experience of the actual travel into exile and how such travels were rhetorically exploited. Thirdly Elisabeth O’Connell presented the case of non-Chalcedonian bishops living in the Theban necropolis in the 6-7th centuries and raised the question of how self-styled and voluntary ‘exile’ relate to exile as a penalty and exile as flight from persecution. Fourthly Harry Mawdsley presented how his PhD-work on Exile in the Post-Roman World is progressing and how he has so far been able to catalogue, categorize and order some of the interesting cases he has been analyzing so far.

In the fourth and final session Dirk Rohmann presented his work on how to collect data on clerical exile. This was followed with a very useful group-work on a number of sources selected by Dirk Rohmann and Julia Hillner. The sources had been divided in genres and they were chosen so as to represent some of the tough questions confronting Dirk Rohmann in his work with the design and entry of the database. The participants were able to provide many useful comments for the future work.

In conclusion the workshop fulfilled its purpose and on top of it established and furthered academic connections between the participants. Dinners were excellent with an English meal the first evening and an Indian the second. All academic and social interaction in and outside the seminar room was conducted in an engaged and friendly atmosphere.