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The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence

Edited by Önver A. Cetrez, Sargon G. Donabed, and Aryo Makko.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 05:43 PM UT


The Assyrian Heritage:
Threads of Continuity and Influence

by Önver A. Cetrez (ed.); Sargon G. Donabed (ed.);  Aryo Makko (ed.)

Distribution: Purchase Information | Amazon

Uppsala University Library
Box 510
751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Book Details

  • Publication type: Collection (editor) (Refereed)
  • Language: English
  • Edition: 1
  • Publisher: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis
  • Place of Publication: Uppsala (Sweden)
  • Pages: xiv+346
  • Series: Studies in Religion and Society, ISSN 1654-630X; 7
  • ISBN: 978-91-554-8303-6
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • URI: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-193689
  • Permanent URL: link

Book Description

Interdisciplinary approach to Assyrian identity

The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence is a compilation of essays analyzing Assyrian culture through language, rituals, and symbols. The theoretical interpretations and methodological approaches covered in this book narrate the topic of the Assyrian heritage past, present, and future. Broadly, this work situates the relevance of Assyrian cultural continuity using multidisciplinary approaches for conceptualizing and reframing the contemporary historical discourse of the Assyrian legacy.

As the first work of its kind, topics covered in this book vary from the development and evolution of national and ethnic identity to cultural genocide. The geographic areas discussed encompass all of the Middle East as well as the diaspora communities in Europe and North America. The work is divided into three sections. The first examines the aforementioned issues from the ancient to the medieval period. The second focuses on language and identity construction, and the last engages with issues relating to contemporary social and political topics.

Drawing from a range of disciplines including Assyriology, Aramaic/Syriac studies, linguistics, law, anthropology, economics, psychology and religious studies as well as history and political science, The Assyrian Heritage reinserts the Assyrian question into academic discourse and sets the standard for future work on the Assyrians and their influence within the world.

 

In particular in a secular country it is important to build a sustainable identity that is not solely based on religious affiliation. If you, like the Assyrian people, do not have your own country, these issues become complicated.”

Önver A. Cetrez
 Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Religion at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Book Review

Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre
February 04, 2013

A new book in CRS's publication series: "Studies in Religion and Society" shows the first complete picture of the Assyrian identity. The book addresses different eras and issues that have not previously been highlighted:
– There has been a void in the Assyrian people's story which my co-authors and I wanted to fill, says Önver Cetrez, Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Religion at Uppsala University.

The book ”The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence”consists of 13 chapters in total which have been written by researchers from educational institutions in the UK, USA, Austria and Spain amongst others, is being published by the publishing house Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Önver Cetrez is the editor of the book together with Sargon Donabed, Assistant Professor of History at Roger Wiliams University of Bristol, Rhode Island and Aryo Makko, Post-Doctoral Researcher and Adjunct Lecturer at the Department of History, Stockholm University. Önver Cetrez has led several research projects on Assyrians and other immigrant populations in Sweden and is a member of the Impact Programme at the Religion and Society Research Centre (CRS).

– "The idea of publishing such a book came after various meetings with Assyrian young people where I lectured on identity issues and after conversations with fellow researchers. It was clear that there was a lot of interest in finding out more about the Assyrian identity", says Önver Cetrez.

A complete work which highlights the Assyrian identity both during the historical so called pre-Christian period and during the post-Christian period has previously been lacking according to Önver Cetrez. Many people know the Assyrian people's history as it was before Christ in Mesopotamia, Anatolia (the central uplands of Minor Asia, Turkey) and Persia; fewer people know what happened to the Assyrian people after the dissolution of the Assyrian Empire:

– "There have been gaps in the Assyrian people's story and an important goal has therefore been to fill in these gaps", says Önver Cetrez.

The book covers religious and cultural Assyrian issues that have been important to the creation of identity for the Assyrian people. A chapter on the Neo-Assyrian Empire during the Assyrian Empire's glory days describes how the national and ethnical identity evolved until the period after the fall of the empire. Other parts of the book highligthts the Assyrian identity before the nation state and facts surrounding the Assyrian people’s language, symbols and religious faith until the post-Christian era.

It also describes periods that have previously not been highlighted:

– In particular, the early pre-Christian period until 500 AD has contained gaps which we are now beginning to fill in. In addition the period up to the great Assyrian migration during the 19th and 20th century has been poorly described, says Önver Cetrez.

An important factor for filling in some of the gaps has been various archaeological findings and studies of both older and modern phenomenon. Multidisciplinary research about the Assyrian identity has also provided new knowledge.

The anthology shows that there are several elements of the Assyrian identity which live on, from pre-Christian times into modern times. Examples are given of various religious rites and symbols that originate from the Iron Age. Findings also show that Assyrian forms of government existed also after the fall of the Empire as well as a modern political identity.

– "I hope that we through this may weave together the picture of the Assyrian story”, he says.

The next step is to publish a paperback, aimed at young people, their parents and others who wish to learn more. The book’s contents will be adapted to a wider target group and will be translated into Swedish.

– "In particular in a secular country it is important to build a sustainable identity that is not solely based on religious affiliation. If you, like the Assyrian people, do not have your own country, these issues become complicated”, says Önver Cetrez.

 

About the editors

Önver A. Cetrez is a senior lecturer at Uppsala University specializing in psychology of religion and cultural psychology. He has led several research projects on Assyrians and other immigrant populations in Sweden. His published works include topics on migration and values, health and acculturative stress, identity formation among youths, and religion in peace and conflict.

Sargon G. Donabed is an assistant professor of history at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. He serves on the advisory board of the journal Chronos, published by the University of Balamand in Lebanon, and some of his works have been published there as well as in journals such as Folklore and National Identities. He is a 2010 recipient  of the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII) grant for his work on Assyrian folk epics.

Aryo Makko is a post-doctoral researcher and adjunct lecturer at the Department of History, Stockholm University. He works on nineteenth and twentieth century international history, with particular focus on Scandinavia, Western Europe, and the Middle East. He is also a member of common room at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Scandinavian Journal of History, Diplomacy & Statecraft, and the Journal of Cold War Studies.

 

Book Review (Swedish, 02-04-2013)

“Speciellt i ett sekulärt land är det viktigt att bygga en hållbar identitet som inte enbart utgår från den religiösa tillhörigheten. Om man som det assyriska folket saknar ett eget land, blir dessa frågor komplicerade.

Önver A. Cetrez
universitetslektor i religionspsykologi vid Uppsala universitet

Bok fyller sprickor i den assyriska berättelsen

En ny bok i CRS:s egen skriftserie: ”Studies in Religion and Society” visar den första samlade bilden av den assyriska identiteten. Boken tar upp olika tidsepoker och frågor som tidigare inte varit belysta:
– Det har funnits ett tomrum i det assyriska folkets berättelse som jag och mina medförfattare velat fylla, säger Önver Cetrez, universitetslektor i religionspsykologi vid Uppsala universitet.

Boken ”The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence” består av totalt 13 kapitel som författats av forskare från lärosäten i bland annat Storbritannien, USA, Österrike och Spanien och ges ut av publikationsförlaget Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Önver Cetrez är redaktör för boken tillsammans med Sargon Donabed, biträdande professor i historia vid Roger Wiliams University i Bristol, Rhode Island och Aryo Makko, postdoktor vid Historiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet. Önver Cetrez har varit ledare för flera forskningsprojekt om assyrier och andra invandrargrupper i Sverige och är medlem i Impact-programmet vid Religion och Samhälle.

– Idén att ge ut en sådan här bok väcktes efter olika möten som jag har haft med assyriska ungdomar när jag föreläst om identitetsfrågor och i samtal med forskarkollegor. Det var tydligt att det fanns ett stort intresse av att få veta mer om den assyriska identiteten, säger Önver Cetrez.

Enligt Önver Cetrez har det tidigare saknats ett samlat verk som belyser den assyriska identiteten både under historisk så kallade förkristen tid och i efterkristen tid. Många känner till det assyriska folkets historia så som det såg ut före Kristus i Mesopotamien, Anatolien (de centrala högländerna i Mindre Asien, Turkiet) och Persien, färre vet vad som hände det assyriska folket tiden efter det assyriska rikets upplösning:

– Det har funnits sprickor i det assyriska folkets berättelse och ett viktigt mål har därför varit att fylla ut dessa mellanrum, säger Önver Cetrez.

I boken behandlas religiösa och kulturella assyriska frågor som varit viktiga för det assyriska folkets identitetsskapande. Här finns ett kapitel om det Neoassyriska riket under det assyriska rikets storhetstid som beskriver hur den nationella och etniska identiteten utvecklats fram till tiden efter rikets fall. I ett annat behandlas den assyriska identiteten före nationalstaten. Andra kapitel tar upp fakta kring det assyriska folkets språk, symboler och religiösa tro fram till efterkristen tid.

Dessutom beskrivs tidsepoker som inte tidigare har varit belysta:

– Speciellt den tidiga förkristna perioden fram till 500 e Kr har haft luckor som vi nu börjar fylla igen. Även tiden fram till den stora assyriska migrationen under 18-1900-talet har varit dåligt beskriven.

En viktig faktor för att fylla i en del av luckorna har varit olika arkeologiska fynd och studier av både äldre och moderna företeelser. Tvärvetenskaplig forskning om den assyriska identiteten har också gett ny kunskap.

Antologin visar på att det finns flera inslag i den assyriska identiteten som lever kvar, från den förkristna tiden in i modern tid. Exempel ges på olika religiösa riter och symboler som har sitt ursprung i järnåldern. Fynd visar också att det funnits assyriska statsbildningar även efter rikets fall liksom en modern politisk identitet.

– Jag hoppas att vi på det här sättet kan väva samman bilden av den assyriska berättelsen, säger han.

Nästa steg är att ge ut en pocketbok, som vänder sig till unga, deras föräldrar och andra som vill veta mer. Bokens innehåll anpassas efter en bredare målgrupp och kommer att översättas till svenska.

– Speciellt i ett sekulärt land är det viktigt att bygga en hållbar identitet som inte enbart utgår från den religiösa tillhörigheten. Om man som det assyriska folket saknar ett eget land, blir dessa frågor komplicerade, säger Önver Cetrez.



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