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“Barbarians” in Ancient Civilizations

Institut d'études avancées de Paris
Workshop organized by Yang Huang (Paris IAS) and Anca Dan (Labex TransferS, CNRS- ENS Paris), with the support of the Paris IAS, Labex TransferS



The ‘barbarian’ seems to be a widespread notion in the ancient world and beyond. Pre-modern civilizations such as China, the Middle East, Greece, Rome, Islam and Medieval Europe either employ words like barbaros or use different strategies to express ‘otherness’. It is thus possible to discuss this notion from the perspective of comparative or Kulturtransfer studies. This workshop brings together specialists of different ancient, medieval and modern cultures who will address questions like: “What does ‘barbarian’ mean? Under what circumstances did such a notion arise? What are the implications for the self-definition and ethnic identity of the societies in question?” The discussions will enable a critical approach to existing concepts such as imperialism, colonization, acculturation and cultural transfers.


Gretty MIRDAL (IEA Paris)
Michel ESPAGNE (Labex TransferS, CNRS-ENS Paris)
Yang HUANG (IEA Paris - Fudan University, Shanghai)
Anca DAN (Labex TransferS, CNRS- ENS Paris)

Ancient China

The Idea of “All Under Heaven” and the Barbarians in Ancient China

Dali YAO (Fudan University, Shanghai)
Discussant: Yang HUANG (IEA Paris - Fudan University, Shanghai)

Ancient Egypt

The Concept of the Barbarian in Ancient Egypt

Shoufu JIN (Capital Normal University, Beijing)
Discussant: Jean-Yves CARREZ-MARATRAY (Paris XIII)

Middle East
Qui sont les “barbares” des premiers musulmans (VIIe-Xe s.) ?
(Who are the “Barbarians” for the Early Muslims (7th-10th c.)?”

Jean-Charles DUCENE (EPHE Paris)
Discussant: Frantz GRENET (Collège de France)

Classical Mediterranean

Inventions of the Barbarian around the Classical Mediterranean

Greg WOOLF (University of London – ICS)
Discussant: Liza MÉRY (Université de Poitiers)

Ancient Greece
Ethnicity and the Barbarian in Ancient Greece

Hyun Jin KIM (University of Melbourne)
Discussant: David KONSTAN (IEA, Paris - NYU)

From Greeks to Romans - Ancient philosophy
Le Barbare dans la perception stoicienne du monde
(The Barbarian according to the Stoic Perception of the World)
Carlos LÉVY (Paris IV-Sorbonne)
Discussant: Claude IMBERT (ENS Paris)

Middle Ages
Perceptions and Representations of Peoples of the Indian Ocean in Western Travel Literature (13th-15th Centuries)
Christine GADRAT-OUERFELLI (CNRS-MMSH Aix-en-Provence)
Discussant: Anca DAN (Labex TransferS, CNRS- ENS Paris)

Old & New Worlds
Barbarians as Connection between China and Russia?

Michel ESPAGNE (Labex TransferS, CNRS-ENS Paris)
Discussant: Claude IMBERT (ENS Paris)


Yang HUANG (IEA Paris - Fudan University, Shanghai)
Anca DAN (Labex TransferS, CNRS- ENS Paris)

On the Margins of Love: Gratitude, Loyalty, and Altruism in the Classical World – and Beyond
01 February 2017 - 30 June 2017
Beyond the Edges of Empires: Views of the Other in Ancient China
01 April 2017 - 30 June 2017
Workshop organized by Y. Huang (Paris IAS) and A. Dan (Labex TransferS, CNRS- ENS Paris)
23 Jun 2017 09:00
23 Jun 2017 18:30
“Barbarians” in Ancient Civilizations