Jessie DeGrado

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Professional Title

Assistant Professor, Middle East Studies

Department(s)

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
Middle East Studies

About

I study the history and religions of the ancient Middle East, with a focus on categories such as gender and empire. I am especially interested in how modern history and politics affect our reconstruction of the past, including the legacy of Orientalism in Assyriology and biblical studies. My first book, currently in preparation, engages postcolonial theory to explore the relationship between the Neo-Assyrian empire and its client states in the Levant. I argue that images of Assyria have been made and remade in analogy to modern experiences of empire. I then consider specific examples of Assyrian ideology and praxis alongside texts from the imperial periphery that engage them. What emerges is a portrait of the diverse motivations and experiences of human actors on both sides of the imperial encounter.

My second project gender and authority in Mesopotamia is guided by a similar set of questions: How do our assumptions about gender in the ancient Middle East affect our understanding of Mesopotamian religion and society? What models can we develop to explore gender in antiquity? To address these questions, I identify groups within Mesopotamian religious and royal institutions whose professional, social, and internal experiences of gender did not necessarily align.

Research Interests

art
ethnicity
humanities
LGBTQ
qualitative research
transgender
transnational
violence
Middle East studies
history
religion