Minutes of the Organizational Meeting for the

Society of Ancient Mediterranean Religions

January 4, 2008

The meeting was brought to order at 5:05 p.m.

Barbette Spaeth, as the convener of the meeting, outlined the reasons for forming a new group devoted to the study of ancient Mediterranean religions: to enable interested scholars to have a scheduled paper session at the APA/AIA Annual Meeting every year, rather than relying on the ad hoc efforts of individuals. Longer term goals might include the establishment of a scholarly journal and/or the planning of regular independent conferences for members of the society. There was general approval for these goals, as well as a suggestion from the floor that the society might form an interest group at the SBL to sponsor an annual session at those meetings as well.

Spaeth outlined the steps necessary to affiliate with the APA by March 18, 2008, including a 500-800 statement of rationale, the development of plans for refereeing paper submissions and for rotating leadership positions, and the identification of officers to begin the process. By acclamation, Spaeth was chosen as interim President and Eric Orlin was chosen as interim Secretary-Treasurer, with instructions to draw up by-laws and send them to the membership for approval. The subscription fee, to cover occasional costs associated with meeting, was set at $10 for faculty and $5 for students.

Discussion then turned to the topic of how to organize panel sessions at the APA/AIA meetings. Because the APA requires the rotation of posts, it was decided that members of the program committee should serve for staggered 3-year terms, with the longest serving member of the committee serving as program chair. The committee would make decisions on abstracts, and also be responsible for selecting a respondent, if one was desired. However, it was decided that the topic for a given year’s panel should be decided by the membership at the previous year’s Business meeting. It was also felt important to involve the person who initially proposed the panel topic in the session in some fashion, as presider or respondent or in some other role that seems appropriate to the program committee.

Further discussion ensued on how to generate publicity for the new group among different interested constituencies: people who regularly attend the SBL/AAR meetings, international members. The possibility of using a listserv or using a wiki was raised, and people were directed to the website set up by Katie Rask of The Ohio State University for the Graduate Society for the Study of Ancient Religion (http://gssar.wikispaces.com/). While these elements were agreed to be important, it was decided to concentrate attention initially on obtaining APA recognition as an affiliated group, and then to work with those people who were interested and capable of utilizing technology to develop a website and other uses of technology.

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.