And you shall be unto me a Kingdom of Priests, a Holy Nation

Researcher Training

The TORCH Long History of Identity, Ethnicity, and Nationhood network are hosting a two day conference on ‘And you shall be unto me a Kingdom of Priests, a Holy Nation’: Chosen Peoples from the Bible to Daesh'.


Monday 20 June, Ertegun House

9.15 Registration & Coffee

9:45 Opening Remarks from Ilya Afanasyev & Nicholas Matheou (University of Oxford)

10.00 1st Keynote Lecture

Chair: Lydia Wilson (University of Oxford)

Charlie Winter (Georgia State University, Alabama) Islamic State: The Cynic’s Utopia

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 Session 1 Chair: Bryan Ward-Perkins (University of Oxford)

Anna Sapir Abulafia (University of Oxford) Jacob and Esau and the Interplay of Jewish and Christian Identities in the Middle Ages

Gerde Heydemann (Freie Universität Berlin) The populus Dei and the law: Biblical models in Carolingian exegesis and legislation

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Session 2 Chair: Elisabeth Bolorinos Allard (University of Oxford)

Rodrigo García-Velasco (University of Cambridge) 'Soleima Alcarmed cum meum filium Stephanum': language and ethnicity in the documents of the twelfth-century conquest of Muslim Iberia'

Yoland Rodríguez-Pérez (University of Amsterdam) King Salomon and the chosen people of Israel: Religion and identity in Early Modern Spain and the Low Countries

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 Session 3 Chair: Simon Yarrow (University of Birmingham)

Thomas Foerster (The Norwegian Institute in Rome) The Italians and the Germans in the Imperial Ideology of Godfrey of Viterbo

Yannis Stouraitis (Austrain Academy of Sciences, Vienna) New Romen's chosen people: the various faces of Byzantine exceptionalism

17.30 Coffee Break

18.00 2nd Keynote Lecture

Chair: Nicholas Matheou

Julia Bray (University of Oxford) Vexed Questions

19.15 Dinner for Speakers and Chairs at Somerville College


Tuesday 21st March, Lecture Room, 2nd Floor, Radcliffe Humanities Building

9.30 Session 4 Chair: Nicholas Matheou (University of Oxford)

Zara Pogossian (Ruhr-Universität-Bochum) Armenians as the People of God and New Israel in medieval sources

Nikoloz Aleksidze (University of Oxford) Political Theology of the Lot of the Mother of God and Identity Politics in Georgia

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 Session 5 Chair: Ilya Afanasyev (University of Oxford)

Sophie-jung Kim (University of Cambridge) Discovering Indian Nationhood through Suffering and Ascetic Selfhood: A brief tour of Vivekananda's Ideas

Oded Steinberg (HUJI and Freie Universität Berlin) Conflicting Periodizations? The Construction of Biblical, Jewish and Zionist Time in pre-1948 historiography

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Session 6 Chair: Miles Larmer (University of Oxford)

Jim Bjork (King's College, London) Chosen Regions? Sub-National Religious Exceptionalism in Modern Europe

Andrea Grant (University of Cambridge) Exploring 'hidden dynamics' in Rwanda's post-genocide religious landscape: the problem of ethnicity

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 3rd Keynote Lecture

Chair: Arezou Azad (University of Birmingham)

Fred Donner (University of Chicago) The Concept of umma in early Islam

17.00 Wine Reception


The Long History of Identity, Ethnicity and Nationhood

Contact name: 

Ilya Afanasyev

Contact email:


Open to all


The Role of Religion in Identity

The Concept of 'Umma' in Early Islam

List of site pages