Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World

By Judith M. Lieu | Go to book overview
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7 Space and Place

The conviction of belonging to a specific territory, whether real or imagined, as inseparable from the conviction of shared origins, is surely one of the irreducible components in a sense of identity, particularly of ethnic identity.1 In the appeals to past history that characterize contemporary conflicts about identity, it has become evident that securing an acknowledged 'place' within space as well as within time has profoundly political implications.2 Conversely, as has often been pointed out, it is as the 'actual geo-social boundaries of the community are undermined, blurred or otherwise weakened', that the symbolic nature and function of boundaries become more important.3 Whereas our earlier discussion focused on the symbolic, here we shall explore the role of 'real' space in the construction of identity in antiquity, while recognizing both that the identifying and the labelling of space—for 'space' to become 'place'—are themselves acts of construction, and hence acts of power, and that it will prove difficult to maintain a distinction between metaphor and 'geo-social' actuality.4

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