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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 22 May 2022

The City in Late Antiquity

The City in Late Antiquity

Where Have All the Demons Gone?

(p.1) Introduction The City in Late Antiquity
City of Demons

Dayna S. Kalleres

University of California Press

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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