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City of Demons$
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Dayna S. Kalleres

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520276475

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520276475.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

The City in Late Antiquity

The City in Late Antiquity

Where Have All the Demons Gone?

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction The City in Late Antiquity
Source:
City of Demons
Author(s):

Dayna S. Kalleres

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520276475.003.0008

This chapter presents the book’s framework as: (1) a new form of cultural history (animistic history of demons in the city or ecclesiastical authority); and (2) historiographical critique (why have demonologies of late antique cities been neglected in scholarship?). To that end, I present the thesis, my methodology (intertwining material analyses—i.e., archaeology—and literary analyses), and theoretical approaches (anthropology, ritual theory). I discuss the wider, historiographical background (Gibbon’s narrative of fall and decline replaced by late antiquity’s dynamic of continuity and transformation), which shaped my alternative view of the relationship between a perceived historical progression and imagined enchanted environment (Robert Orsi's abundant history, animistic history)—a relationship animated through ritual practice. Finally, I present the centrality of diabolization in my thesis. Ecclesiastical leadership in cities employed demonological discourse and exorcistic practice—that is, diabolization—to a maintain congregations and Christianize the city. Diabolization is comprised of two parts: first, a rhetorical/discursive amplification of the demonic, the intensification of the demonic threat, drawing it closer and closing the distance that demonization creates; second, a ritual strategy aimed toward defeating or managing the demonic. This ritual process redefined the topographical urban map, shifted the urban worldview and concepts of embodied charismatic power.

Keywords:   historiography, late antique scholarship, ritual criticism, anthropological theory, animism, enchantment

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