The figure of Boudica, queen of the Iceni, is surprisingly resilient. Since the Renaissance, she has turned up in public discourse pretty consistently in Britain, from celebrations of the defeat of the Spanish Armada to the imperialist triumphalism of the late Victorian era. Over this long period, Boudica has come in for criticism, as well as for lionisation. The latest example of the latter is Nick Timothy’s recent article in The Sun, encouraging his former boss, Theresa May, to “find her inner Boudicca [sic]”, in negotiations with the EU.
Exeter’s Centre for Imperial and Global History is delighted to host an interdisciplinary roundtable on Martin Pitts (University of Exeter) and Miguel John Versluys’s (Leiden University) recent edited volume, Globalisation and the Roman World(Cambridge University Press). The book makes the provocative case for understanding the ancient Roman world as one of the earliest examples of globalisation. Their study challenges that of many Roman historians and archaeologists who feel that the word globalisation is inappropriate to use when discussing the ancient world. With Pitts and Versluys’s book as a starting point, the roundtable participants – ancient historians, archaeologists, sociologists, and modern historians – will discuss how the controversial study of globalisation’s ancient origins might reshape and redirect the interdisciplinary field of globalisation studies. Chaired by Centre Director Andrew Thompson, the roundtable participants are:
Martin Pitts (Exeter, Classics and Ancient History)
Professor Elena Isayev (Exeter, Classics and Ancient History)
Professor David Inglis (Exeter, Sociology)
Robert Fletcher (Exeter, History)
Marc-William Palen (Exeter, History)
When: Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Where: Amory 128 (University of Exeter, Streatham Campus)
Martin Pitts Classics Department, University of Exeter Associate Member, Centre for Imperial & Global History
Globalisation and the Roman World (2014), edited by myself and Miguel John Versluys (Leiden University), is a new book that examines the case for understanding the ancient Roman world as one of the earliest examples of globalisation. This is a controversial project, not least because many Roman historians and archaeologists feel that the word globalisation is inappropriate to use when discussing the ancient world. In their view, Rome was a completely different beast to the image of western capitalism which is frequently conflated with globalisation, and of course, the Roman world was never global in a literal sense.
Despite this reluctance to engage with globalisation, a group of archaeologists and historians feel there is sufficient mileage to explore the application of the concept to the Roman world in more detail, having for themselves overcome the initial objections of the critics. For these Romanists, a major impetus is to critically examine the possibilities of a new explanatory framework based on increasingly popular notions of connectivity and networks. Likewise, many felt dissatisfied with a state of affairs in which older ideas of Romanisation and imperialism had been deconstructed, but not adequately replaced with something better. At the same time, from the perspective of those contributors coming from outside the discipline, the exploration was overdue since ideas of Rome have long been (mis)appropriated in modern writings on globalisation. Continue reading “Globalisation and the Roman World”→