WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28
4:00 pm, 254 Barrows
"Of Mimic Jews and Jewish Mimics in Antiquity"
Steven Weitzman, Stanford University
The famed scholar of religion Rene Girard may have been on to something when he attempted to trace religious violence back to a struggle between mimetic rivals, but the resulting theory has been rightly criticized for its indifference to the particulars of historical context. With help from post-colonial scholarship, this paper aims to rethink the concept of mimicry as used by scholars of religion by situating an example from ancient Judaism, Josephus’ description of the Samaritans as hostile doubles of the Jews, in the particular cultural environment in which this ancient historian wrote. The author hopes to contribute to our understanding of the Samaritans, and of Josephus as a slippery double in his own right, but the essay's real point is to caution against any generalizing approach to mimicry by stressing it as an adaptive behavior, a tactic, whose motives and workings are best understood within the particular cultural habitat to which the mimic is responding.
Stephen C. Russell, Post-doctoral scholar, Dept. of Near Eastern Studies