18. Panel D: Homelands and Networks
Bethany J. Walker [+]
University of Bonn
Panel D circulates around issues of social canons as the infrastructure of social networks. These studies therefore connect back to the concepts of canonicity (in a broad, social sense), developed in Panel B. In the first study, Håkon Teigen takes the Manichaean congregation in the Dakhlah Oasis, western part of Roman Egypt (fourth to fifth century CE) as a point of departure for a study on the production of canonical authority and social doxa. Focusing on the canonical habit of itinerancy and its impact on the relationship between the Elect—Manichaeism’s ascetical elite—and the Auditors, its laity, in the Levant and Egypt, Teigen argues that such itinerancy was practiced in a distinct way and took on a certain role in the Manichaean canonical ecology. This allowed a trans-regional Manichaean network to emerge, spread, and persist. In chapter 15, Bethany Walker presents an archaeological and archival study of how the onset of globalizing economic forces and ecological and agricultural changes caused a very high number of local villages in the Levant to be abandoned—and sometimes actually moved wholesale—in the early Ottoman period. Important factors in this development were change in land use and the opening up of new networks of economic exchange and communication. Walker portrays rural communities of the Levant as exercising peasant agency and performing social formations that reflected a sense of rural (local) empowerment. New social canons and standards developed, partly in encounter and conflict with those promoted by the Mamluk state. In this situation, rural communities—guided by local ecological conditions, ruled by traditional procedures and knowledge, and dominated by groups that over the centuries had assumed responsibility for curating local social canons—developed their own response. In her treatment of hospitality, honor, and shame in the Levant in chapter 16, Eveline van der Steen contends that sources from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries reflect how traditional values associated to local discourse (cf. Stordalen in the introduction) exerted considerable cultural and political influence long after tribal social discourse in the Levant had entered a modern pace. She then argues for utilizing nineteenth century honor and shame practices as a heuristic prism for reading Levantine sources from the Iron Age. This article makes a claim for a particular resilience in Levantine cultural production associated with local tradition and kinship structures.