Local Dynamics of Globalization in the Pre-Modern Levant


Already during the Bronze Age, the Eastern Mediterranean (the Levant) experienced the formation of secondary states and empires that promoted early forms of globalization. This development caught on, with the Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Abbasid and Ottoman empires as good examples. One often speaks about such empires as agents for cultural development. But, in reality, how profound were the changes they initiated for instance in people’s daily lives? What forces would pull in the direction of local change, and what counter-forces would work in the direction of stability? The aim for the researchers in LDG is to explore these and related questions in six different empirical contexts, to let findings in these six contexts elucidate each other, and to formulate theoretical models for studying the local dynamics of globalization in pre-modern societies. Professor Terje Stordalen, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, is the coordinator of the project, with project co-originator Øystein (Sten) LaBianca, Andrews University (archaeology), as the associate coordinator. These two together with Professor Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University (social anthropology), are responsible for developing the theoretical aspects of the project. The individual projects in LDG include Professor LaBianca’s work on local and global discourses as they are mirrored in the archaeological record of Tall Hisban, Jordan. Findings in excavations at this site go back to the Bronze Age and document a number of pre-modern as well as modern empires. They also indicate aspects of daily life having been less influenced by changing empires. This renders Hisban as a metaphor for the analytical perspective of LDG. Prof. Stordalen examines how elite biblical literature and archaeological material from localized contexts mirror different sets of religious practices in different social fields of ancient Hebrew society. Professor Diana Edelman, will investigate the formation of popular and elite identities in Palestine after the fall of the autonomous Israelite state. Professor Øyvind Norderval, University of Oslo, will research elite interpretations of various localized building programs of Emperor Constantine in the Holy Land. Associate Professor Marina Prusac Lindhagen, University of Oslo, will study how the multi-ethnic Jerusalem of Constantine was interpreted as a Christian program by later generations of elites. Eveline J van der Steen PhD, will research how the ideals and practice of honour and hospitality among 19th century Bedouin tribes shaped their politics and those of the wider region. And finally, Professor Bethany Walker, Missouri State University, will investigate migration as a counter strategy to globalization in the pre-modern Eastern Mediterranean, especially under the Islamic empires.


Previous events



  • Kreinath, J. 2014. “Virtual Encounters with Hızır and Other Muslim Saints: Dreaming and Healing at Local Pilgrimage Sites in Hatay, Turkey”, Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia, 2(1): 25–66.

  • Økland, J., Stordalen, T. 2014. “Canon, Canonicity, Canonization”, in J. O'Brian (ed.), Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies, Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2014. “Dialogism, Monologism, and Cultural Literacy: Classical Hebrew Literature and Readers' Epistemic Paradigms.”, The Bible and Critical Theory, 10(1): 1-19. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2015. "Heshbon – The History of a Biblical Memory", in R. I. Thelle, T. Stordalen, M. E. J. Richardson (eds.), New Perspectives on Old Testament Prophecy and History: Essays in Honour of Hans M. Barstad, Leiden: Brill. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2015. "The Canonical Taming of Job", in J. Jarrick (ed.), Perspectives on Israelite Wisdom: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar, London: Bloomsbury. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2015. “Horse Statues in Seventh Century Jerusalem: Ancient Social Formations and the Evaluation of Religious Diversity.", Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, 4(1):106–132.

  • T. Stordalen, and S. A. Naguib. 2015. The Formative Past and the Formation of the Future: Collective Remembering and Identity Formation. Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture, Oslo: Novus.

  • Stordalen, T., Naguib, S. A. 2015. "Time, Media, Space: Perspectives on the Ecology of Collective Remembering", in T. Stordalen, S. A. Naguib (eds.), The Formative Past, Oslo: Novus. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2015. "Canon and Canonical Commentary: Comparative Perspectives on Canonical Ecologies", in T. Stordalen and S.-A. Naguib (eds.), The Formative Past, Oslo: Novus. 

  • Edelman, D. 2014. "City Gardens and Parks in Biblical Social Memory.", in D. V. Edelman and E. B. Zvi (eds.), Memory and the City in Ancient Israel, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. 

  • Edelman, D. 2014. "Cisterns and Wells in Biblical Memory", in D. V. Edelman, E. B. Zvi (eds.), Memory and the City in Ancient Israel, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. 

  • Edelman, D. 2015. “The Metaphor of Torah as a Life-Giving Well in Deuteronomy.”, in I. D. Wilson, D. Edelman (eds.), History, Memory, Hebrew Scripture: Festschrift for Ehud Ben Zvi, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. 

  • D. V. Edelman, A. Fitzpatrick, P. Guillaume. 2015. Religion in the Persian Period: Emerging Judaisms and Other Trends, ORA. Mohr-Siebeck. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2015. "The Trail of Roses: Time, Media, and Space in Memory Practices in Oslo after 22 July 2011", in T. Stordalen and S.-A. Naguib (eds.), The Formative Past, Oslo: Novus. 

  • Stordalen, T. 2014. "Imagined and Forgotten Communities: Othering in the Story of Josiah’s Reform (2 Kings 23)", in E. Ben Zvi and D. Edelman (eds.), Imagining the Other and Constructing Israelite Identity in the Early Second Temple Period, London: Bloomsbury. 

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