mardi 19 novembre 2019

Les idiots de naissance dans le monde antique

‘Natural Born Fools‘ in the Ancient World

 Department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology, University of Manchester

Organisers: Christian Laes, Peter Pormann
Friday the 31st of January 2020

In the history of disabilities of the ancient world, intellectual disorder seems to have been left out as a ‘tricky subject’ for a very long time. It was Edgar Kellenberger who opened and broadened the discussion with publications on ‘Geistliche Behinderung’ from the Sumerian period over the Old and the New Testament up to early Christian times (in particular Saint Augustine). Irina Metzler’s seminal book Fools and Idiots? finally took up the challenge of dealing with cognitive disability in the Middle Ages. In a recent review (BMCR), Candida Moss praised the attempts in Christian Laes’ Disabilities and the Disabled in the Roman World to also deal with the thorny subject of intellectual disability.

It seems time for a one day focused seminar on the topic, bringing together the very few specialists all over the world who have dealt with the subject. Incurability will be a red thread throughout the papers. Did people in the ancient world acknowledge that some mental/intellectual conditions were not treatable, as they were innate and not subject to any change? Did such recognition lead to a categorisation that comes somehow close to a concept of permanent disability? Or were distinctions and borders vague, thereby making cognitive disability an almost intangible subject to deal with?

The participants will gather with ready papers, and the seminar will be organised for presenting and discussing these chapters, which will be published in a book volume – the first to systematically deal with the topic in the ancient world.

Provisional program:

Christian Laes: Hidden in Plain Sight? The challenge of studying intellectual disability in the ancient world.

1. The economy of intellectual disability

Peter Pormann (University of Manchester)
Fools in Arabic medicine and hospitals: medical, social and economic studies

Chryssa Bourbou (Fribourg) “Mad bones”: Tracing mental disability in the bioarchaeological record and its possible socio-economic implications in past societies

Irina Metzler (Swansea University)
Incapacitas mentis: Canon Law and Roman Legislation on congenital fools.

2. Medical explorations

Chiara Thumiger (University of Warwick)
Natural Born Fools in the Corpus Hippocraticum and Galen.

Edgar Kellenberger (Basel) 
The quest for Down Syndrome (and other symptoms) in Antiquity.

3. ‘Later’ explorations

Julia Wattz Belzer (Georgetown University)
The shoteh in rabbinic sources. Cases of intellectual disability?

Stephanos Efthymiadis (Cyprus Open University)
Searching for cognitive disability in Byzantine literature.

Fotis Vasileiou (University of Corfou)
Treating cognitive disability: the remarkable case of Kephallonia.

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