Vanessa Juloux

Anthropologist, philosopher, digital humanist

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Research project

My aim is to develop a new hermeneutics, a hermeneutics of action. My dissertation “Agency, gender role and power relationships for investigating violent behavior: ʿAnatu in KTU 1.1-6 from the scribe ʾIlimilku of Ugarit as a case study” shall be considered as an experimental project for testing the relevance of diverse digital approaches for setting up this hermeneutics of action.

Hermeneutics of action

Dissertation’s Abstract

Agency, Gender Role and Power Relationships for Investigating Violent Behavior: ʿAnatu in KTU 1.1-6 from the Scribe ʾIlimilku of Ugarit as a Case Study

Narrative texts have always been influenced by culture and society (notably the political climate). Taking this into account, how can we understand the violence and the power relationships of ʿAnatu in KTU 1.1-6 from the scribe ʾIlimilku of Ugarit, particularly when her actions are implicitly the will (free or not) of the scribe/sponsor– in other words, her actions are the scribe’s intentions and motivations? By investigating the occurrences of verbs and actants within KTU 1.1-6, and by comparing them with other texts (historical, epistolary, juridical) from several other ancient Near Eastern cultures used in similar contexts (e.g. battle, assembly), and spheres (inside, outside a political or cultural center of power, e.g. palace or temple), the primary goals are to examine the behavior of ʿAnatu, to highlight first her gender role (acquired, contrasting to biological sex) through her agency (ability, willingness, power to act) and deontic power, next her power relationships towards the other, and lastly to suggest the intentionality of the scribe/sponsor in giving such powerful behavior to ʿAnatu.
To answer these questions, a multidisciplinary approach is used, especially for setting up analytical taxonomies: philosophy of action, pragmatics, empiricism, philology, and cognitives sciences. These approaches, combined with digital humanities methods and Popperian deduction, enable the establishment of a new hermeneutics, a hermeneutics of action for reevaluating our understanding of violent behavior in political contexts.

XML Using XML-TEI and R

This approach was introduced at the AOS (March 2017) and shall be published by November 2017

How can the relationships between animated entities (AE) in a narrative corpus be measured? As part of my doctoral thesis, I propose a new methodology for ethno-anthropological purposes. Based on the philosophy of action from Donald Davidson, and Gertrude Anscombe’s concept of intentionality, I set up variables to measure the relationships between AE. They are divided into three main groups: 1) primary data: action (verbs) and being (character or AE); 2) objective: semantics category, specific verbal taxonomies, names of AE (character), spheres (outside, inside), roles (active, passive), as well as contexts; and 3) subjective (in other words, to be left to the interpretation of researchers): types and levels of emotions (e.g. anger, joy), types of voluntary intentionality, levels of desire (1 to 5), the consequences of action towards an AE (herself, herself and other(s), other(s)). From all these quantified data (extracted from texts encoded in e.g. XML-TEI), various statistical calculations were made. The results may however be difficult to understand without visualization graphics, according to certain key variables of interest: e.g. diagram of verbal frequency data for each AE, proxemics inspired by the anthropologist Edward. T. Hall. Such a statistical approach is not a substitute for scholarly interpretation of narrative corpus but it should rather be considered as an experimental tool which highlights the (power) relationships between AE, and complements conventional research methods; notably for studying deontic power, such as described by John Searle, or whether showing an individual marker of behaviour (agency: to identify social gender), the statistical results should be re-framed within socio-cultural, historical, and political contexts. Furthermore, this approach challenges the scientific achievements about the capacity and the implication of major animated entities such as ʿAnatu in the studied corpus.

See XML-TEI and R guidelines

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