‘The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity’ secures AHRC Funding
Photo: The First Council of Nicea – wall painting at the church of Stavropoleos, Bucharest, Romania.
Dr Julia Hillner (Department of History) and two international co-investigators -Professor Jörg Ulrich (University of Halle) and Dr Jakob Engberg (Aarhus University) – have been awarded a three-year AHRC research grant to investigate the political and cultural networks generated by the legal banishment of Christian clerics in the period 325-600AD.
To be launched in August 2014, the project uniquely brings together expertise in legal history, theology and cultural history. It will test the hypothesis that the imposition of exile on late antique religious dissidents turned out to be not only a form of punishment, but a catalyst for personal, social, linguistic and theological encounter, which was to have an impact on the institutionalisation of the Christian church – its laws, doctrines and cults – for many centuries to come. As such, the project will shed light on issues of significant relevance to understanding the formation of religious identity and conflicts in the contemporary world, where legal deportation of religious dissidents is still widely applied.
The project includes the construction of a prosopographical database that collects all available information on clerical exiles, anticipating a dataset comprising records for approximately 1,000 individuals. This will allow the project team to trace and visualise the personal and geographical networks clerical exiles developed and maintained from their place of banishment and after return from exile. The quantitative information will provide the basis for a thorough qualitative re-assessment of selected legal, theological and hagiographical texts of the period, which will be investigated in the light of the networks of their authors and audiences. The project will also sponsor an international conference on exile in late antiquity in 2016-17, and a PhD studentship.