CFP: Politics of Empire in the Roman Republic

The Politics of Empire in the Roman Republic: The Forum Unbounded (280 BCE – 20 CE)

Keynote Speaker: Professor Arthur Eckstein, University of Maryland

Georgetown University’s Villa Le Balze, Fiesole, Italy
29 April – 2 May 2020

The growth of Roman power across the Mediterranean, as well as the shape it took, was dictated by debates, elections, and spectacles in the city of Rome.  But interactions in ever-shifting borderlands – among local populations and their leaders, Roman generals and armies, senatorial envoys, subcontractors, traders, translators, and more – were equally important.  “Imperial politics,” historian Charles Maier has written, “…originates from the outside in as well as proceeding from the center out” (Among Empires, p. 78).

While recent studies have offered radically new visions of the politics of the Roman Republic and the development of its imperium alike, there is an opportunity to look more closely at the two in conjunction.  How did actors and institutions both in Rome and beyond shape particular decisions (e.g., to go to war, to make peace) as well as long-term trends?  How did politics in the Forum as well as ‘borderlands’ influence the growth of Roman authority in specific regions, such as the Iberian Peninsula, the Celtic world, and the Balkans?  How could individuals acting outside of Rome circumvent decisions made in Rome?  How did those critical of Roman imperium, or aspects of it, resist it – militarily, diplomatically, intellectually – and help to reform it and influence Roman thinking?  

This conference aims to provide a forum for new research and scholarly argument on the role of empire as a catalyst in Roman politics and political institutions – and also the way transactions and interactions both inside Rome and far beyond shaped Roman imperium at particular moments in time.  We welcome papers that offer new interpretations of familiar episodes, challenge established narratives, and reframe chronology and establish the importance of developments in this period for later Roman history.

Papers will be given at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole, Italy, 29 April – 2 May, 2020.  Built in 1912 in the Renaissance style as a private residence and now a study center for Georgetown University, the Villa sits just below the ancient settlement of Fiesole and enjoys spectacular views of Florence as well as beautiful hillside gardens.  Participants will dine together at the Villa and will stay there or in a guest house in Fiesole.  A one-day excursion is also planned as part of the conference.

Abstracts should be 300 words maximum, for 30-minute papers to be delivered in English.  The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2019.  Questions may be sent to any or all of the organizers: Joel Allen (jallen@gc.cuny.edu); Kit Morrell (kit.morrell@sydney.edu.au); Josiah Osgood (jo39@georgetown.edu); Kathryn Welch (kathryn.welch@sydney.edu.au).  Proposals should be sent to Josiah Osgood (jo39@georgetown.edu).

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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