Photo of display case in museum containing stack of red ceramic pottery.

Gallo-Roman terra sigillata, manufactured at La Graufesenque. Museum of Millau. By AgTigress - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Encounters in the Classical Mediterranean World

Carlos Noreña (University of California, Berkeley) & Nicholas Purcell (University of Oxford)

This event will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

Lecture #1: Carlos Noreña (University of California, Berkeley)

Title: "Romanization 3.0: Power, Infrastructure, Scale"

Abstract: This lecture argues that "Romanization" is still the best analytical concept to understand cultural change in the Roman Mediterranean. Highlighting the "scaling up" in various domains that empire triggered throughout the Mediterranean basin, it proposes that we should understand "Romanization" not in narrowly cultural terms (much less normative ones), but rather as the particular convergence of a set of cultural forms, the infrastructural power of the Roman state, and the replication of both at unprecedented scale. The very different path of cultural integration in the Qin and Han empires of early China will help to draw out the peculiar relationship between culture and power in the Roman world.

Bio: Carlos Noreña is Professor of History, and Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the political and cultural history of the Roman empire; the historical geography of the Roman empire, especially in the west; and comparative empires. He is the author of Imperial Ideals in the Roman West (Cambridge, 2011) and editor, most recently, of A Cultural History of Western Empires: Antiquity (Bloomsbury, 2018). Current projects include a monograph on law and imperialism in the Roman Republic and an edited volume on the Atlantic façade of the Roman empire.

Lecture #2: Nicholas Purcell (University of Oxford) 

Title: “Romans in Residence - and the Mediterranean which resulted”

Abstract: Outsider communities dotted the ancient Mediterranean world. They played a key role in shaping the consistencies of inter-community relations, and of the Mediterranean as a whole. From the second century BCE to the third CE, some of the most visible are labelled in Greek and Latin ‘Resident Romans’, and also often ‘people who do business’. We know some of their activities: since unusually, these inscriptions drew attention to the world of economic exchange (and even sometimes specifically to trade in unfree people). During the period such communities are attested, the Mediterranean became more and more firmly subordinated to Roman political, social and economic power. This ‘Roman diaspora’ is naturally of considerable interest for studying textures of interaction within that hegemony. Long neglected, it is now receiving more, and productive, attention. Here I want to ask about how claims of identity relating, like this, to the ruling power, affected the map of community-memberships across the Mediterranean world. Diasporic Mediterranean communities of other periods, some hegemonic (Genoese or Venetian), some not (Syrian or Jewish) offer parallels (and contrasts).

Bio: Nicholas Purcell is Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford, and works on ancient social, economic and cultural history. He has been interested throughout his career in how to write Mediterranean history in ways which pull together evidence from different periods, from prehistory to modernity, but especially the ancient and medieval Mediterraneans. That is the theme of his monograph of 2000, The Corrupting Sea: a study of Mediterranean History, written with the medievalist Peregrine Horden.

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