The Roman World Between Global Society and Local Cultures
- Wednesday 12 May 2021
« Glocalisation » in Daily Practices Between the Punic Wars and the Reign of Trajan
Over the past decades, colonialism has been heavily challenged by historical schools of thought breaking with imperialist and ethnocentric paradigms and promoting pluricultural approaches to the political expansion of ancient societies. These studies highlight the impact of local contingencies in the transformation of both the colonists and the indigenous communities. Romanization is no exception: recent methodological advances and new discoveries indicate the lack of consistency of a term that had been widely used in scholarship since the beginning of the 19th century.
Recent historical and archaeological research highlights the elusive character of Roman culture. Studying the cultural transformations undergone by the conquered territories implies a detailed examination of the original and distinctive features of Roman culture, and of the way these were received and permanently adopted by indigenous communities. However, Roman civilization transformed over time as well as regionally with the inclusion of new communities in the Roman territory and the granting of Roman citizenship. Both historical and archaeological records testify to the persistence of some local traditions after the Roman conquest and to their adoption by the Romans. These processes have been labelled “cultural resistances”. They denote the profound disruption of a societal system following the colonial intrusion, and the ability of this system to survive and assert itself within an exogenous (yet imposed) culture. Nevertheless, the study of these resistances against the Latin domination reinforces a two-sided approach to the history of the Roman conquest.
In recent years, several scholars have begun to reassess aspects of Roman religion and institutions in the frame of a society that is both global (homogeneous across the Roman territory) and composite (regionally specific); that is, “glocal”. This society is seen as the result of the interconnection between one model originating from Rome and a range of indigenous practices persisting across the conquered territory. Our roundtable intends to contribute to current research on this topic, with a focus on economic practices, cultural traditions, military life, law, religion and institutions in the expanding Roman world between the Punic Wars and the reign of Trajan. Our goal is to identify the social, political and economic conditions in which the mingling of cultures is clearly visible, or on the contrary invisible, through written sources and archaeological records. Through the study of a diversity of daily practices, this roundtable is expected to contribute new ways of looking at what it means to be Roman and at the cultural complexity that it underpins.
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