Session: #355

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Politics of the Roman Past in the 21st Century
There has been a long ongoing conversation about the relationship between the Roman past and contemporary politics in Europe, centered around the debate over Romanisation which began during the mid-90s in the UK. While global politics have changed greatly over the past few decades, and theoretical approaches in Roman archaeology have likewise diversified alongside the postcolonial critique, discussions about the politics of Roman archaeology frequently still revert back to the Romanisation debate.
We recognize that the political situation for all archaeology, not just Roman, has grown increasingly complex and nuanced across Europe over the past few years with the rise of nationalism and populism. Furthermore, it would be a mistake to assume that we can make blanket statements about the politics of the Roman past in Europe given the many unique local social contexts. While Romanisation does persist in certain cases, different research traditions and political histories across Europe also bring a diversity to how archaeological research relates to contemporary politics.
This session therefore aims to discuss the contemporary political impact of Roman studies across Europe in the 21st century, incorporating as many different regions as possible in this conversation. The aim will be to create a dialogue which both challenges ongoing presumptions about Romanisation and highlights the need for an ongoing critique of the politics of the Roman past. We welcome contributions addressing the politics of Roman archaeology on local, regional, or national scales across Europe.
Roman studies, Politics, Romanisation
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Main organiser:
Emily Hanscam (United Kingdom) 1
Matthew Mandich (Italy) 2
1. Durham University
2. The International Society for the Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome (ISAR)