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Empire's inner theatre: interiority and power during the Neo-Assyrian period, c.750 - c. 650 BC

Kanchan, Chaitanya Dutta; (2018) Empire's inner theatre: interiority and power during the Neo-Assyrian period, c.750 - c. 650 BC. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

What role do concepts of the thinking and feeling self play in the processes of imperial rule? How do individuals within empire manage and subvert the government of the self the ecumenical power demands? I address these questions through an exploration of the inner theatre of operations of the Assyrian Empire, which dominated the Middle East in the early first millennium BC from its capitals in North Iraq. The key sources are the state correspondence, c.4,000 letters on clay tablets, written in the Semitic Akkadian language in the cuneiform script. They provide a window into the everyday practice of empire, supplemented by royal inscriptions on clay and stone. These texts have recently been edited and published in high quality interactive scholarly editions online. In the first part of the thesis, I propose the concept of an ‘intentional loop’ traversing the interior and exterior world. I explore the concepts of ṭemu ‘thought, intention, order, news’ and libbu ‘interior,’ which linked these worlds. Ṭemu, a thought traversing the libbu, unfolded through language and action, manifesting events which looped around into further thought and action. I then analyse techniques used by the Assyrians to shape the interiorities of subjects to satisfy the demands posed by these concepts, using the material to interrogate theories of governmentality and biopolitics. The second part of the thesis explores how subjects negotiated this regime of interiority through language, before proceeding to explore alternative relationships defined by kinship terminology, and finally antagonistic relationships. By employing methods inspired by linguistic anthropology’s application of Bakhtin’s insights into dialogue and quotation, the dyadic relations explored in this section are resituated in the larger currents of imperial ideology. Thus, building on the recent work by Pongratz-Leisten and Liverani, the thesis further advances our understanding of the Assyrian imperial phenomenon.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Empire's inner theatre: interiority and power during the Neo-Assyrian period, c.750 - c. 650 BC
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10059188
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