Trust and Conflict in Monastic Spaces in Gaul, c. 350 - c. 700
Supervisor: Julia Smith
My research examines inter-personal trust and conflict in monastic institutions and ascetic spaces in late antique and early medieval Gaul through the lens of space, gender, life course and life cycle, and care and customs of the dead. These approaches are crucial for the formation, continuation and transformation of monasteries and ascetic spaces. There will be two central findings of this doctoral project. First, it will study the institution of the monastery as the outcome of unique historical events and episodes caused by experiences and interactions of individuals inside and outside the space of the monastery. Second, social trust and conflict are best understood from a careful investigation of the experiences and interactions of the members of the monastic communities. A study of a monastic institution then becomes a study of individuals who invented their own spaces of asceticism, or ignored norms of monasteries, or rebelled against the rules of the monasteries. Thus, the underlying thesis of this dissertation is that individuals and communities – however marginal or central, visible or anonymous – shaped the social atmosphere of trust and conflict in Gallic monasteries of late antiquity and the early middle ages. Trust as a social phenomenon has been understudied by historians, and this dissertation is an attempt to incorporate trust as a social process along with studies on conflict. The methodology delineated above can also be applied to other kinds of institutions in other periods and places.