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Call for Papers: Beyond Mysteries. The Hybrid History of Ancient Eleusis

Avatar of Philipp Weiss Philipp Weiss - 18. November 2020 - Call for papers

International Conference
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, September 30 - October 2, 2021

Beyond Mysteries. The Hybrid History of Ancient Eleusis

Renowned for its Mysteries cult, Eleusis has been equated already in antiquity with its initiations for the worship of Demeter and Persephone. Life in the renowned sanctuary was, however, richer than the religious lens suggests, including political, military, athletic, and euergetic activities. And the importance of the city was clearly not confined to the Mysteries.

Situated at the crossroads between Athens, Boiotia, Megara, and Salamis, Eleusis was subject to the changing fortunes in the world around. This is reflected also in various alterations to the basic political outlook of the city, from polis to deme to Sonderstaat (in 404 BCE) and back to deme. From the Athenian perspective, Eleusis marked the fringes of their territory. From everybody else’s point of view, it was either a destination or a gateway: to Athens, the Saronic region and Aegean, Central Greece, or the Peloponnese. In the midst of these itineraries, the Eleusinians fostered the belief that they were located at the navel of a widely connected world.

The conference explores Eleusis’s inherent in-betweenness. It invites approaches that appreciate and are alert to the local horizon as a sphere where different vectors of Greek culture touch, both complementarily and conflictually, to shape a hybrid history of place: for instance, an amalgamation of diverse natural environments and different political entities; of boundedness and entanglement; imaginaries of isolation and belonging; material and immaterial expressions in culture that were in themselves fused by local, regional, and universal practices. In this vein of inquiry, the conference will also return to the Mysteries and place them in the context of religious communications in the Saronic region and beyond, on land and at sea, across time.

Paper proposals, no longer than 400 words in length for a paper between 25 to 30 minutes, should be sent to the organizers no later than January 31, 2021. The full slate of selected papers will be announced within four weeks after the submission deadline. Conference participants will be reimbursed all costs for air travel, ground transportation, and accommodation.

Hans Beck (
Sebastian Scharff (

The event is sponsored by the Cluster of Excellence ‘Religion and Politics’ and the Chair of Greek History at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

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