THEORIZING CONTACTS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH, 8-9 December 2017
We live in a multicultural world, in which every community develops in constant interaction with others. A series of theoretical models have been developed to explain these contacts, which in recent years have been utilized to understand the ancient world. In the context of the Roman empire, these theories are typically used to examine the interactions of various indigenous populations with their rulers. These kinds of studies were once grouped under the heading “Romanization”, though the increased questioning of the term’s validity has given rise to a diverse range of alternatives. These are often drawn from modern theoretical backgrounds: multiculturalism and multilingualism are two recent concepts employed in this realm.
The aim of this conference is to assess the validity and scope of a variety of some of these models, with a particular focus on multilingualism and multiculturalism. By promoting and facilitating dialogue between disciplines, we shall aim to provide effective tools for different fields’ approaches in parallel (e.g. historical and linguistic). This has already been done very successfully in a few cases (e.g. ‘code-switching’), though greater interaction remains a desideratum. It is hoped that the participants will thereby open the discussion for a ‘theory of contact’ in the Roman world.
We invite scholars from a range of fields, including epigraphists and papyrologists, philologists, legal historians, and archaeologists to consider if and how the multiculturalism and multilingualism models can be applied in the following areas:
• Language: onomastics; ancient bilingualism; language preservation and change.
• Law: the interaction between native and Roman law; issues of status.
• Literature: the response of Roman and Greek authors to “others”.
• Art and visual culture: interactions of Roman and indigenous styles; religious and cult imagery.