From constructing new buildings to describing rival-controlled
areas as morally and physically dangerous, leaders in late
antiquity fundamentally shaped their physical environment and thus
the events that unfolded within it. "Controlling Contested Places"
maps the city of Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) through the
topographically sensitive vocabulary of cultural geography,
demonstrating the critical role played by physical and rhetorical
spatial contests during the tumultuous fourth century. Paying close
attention to the manipulation of physical places, Christine
Shepardson exposes some of the powerful forces that structured the
development of religious orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the late Roman
Theological claims and political support were not the only
significant factors in determining which Christian communities
gained authority around the Empire. Rather, Antioch's urban and
rural places, far from being an inert backdrop against which events
transpired, were ever-shifting sites of, and tools for, the
negotiation of power, authority, and religious identity. This book
traces the ways in which leaders like John Chrysostom, Theodoret,
and Libanius encouraged their audiences to modify their daily
behaviors and transform their interpretation of the world (and
landscape) around them. Shepardson argues that examples from
Antioch were echoed around the Mediterranean world, and similar
types of physical and rhetorical manipulations continue to shape
the politics of identity and perceptions of religious orthodoxy to
University of California Press
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