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Chapter 3 - The Wild Stranger and the Conquest of Space

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2022

Dean Hammer
Affiliation:
Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

The boundaries between space and place remain unsettled in the founding imagination in three ways: as a space that is unbounded since there is nowhere that cannot potentially be converted into a place; as a space that is already an inhabited place; and as a place that is continually infused with new groups, thus potentially altering the familiarity of that place. This chapter explores the fate of the Samnites in the Roman imagination and the Native Americans in the American imagination as the wild Stranger who threatens place. The Samnite and the Native American are different from the corrosive Stranger, yet both play a part in the construction of its identity. The Greeks, Italians, and Gauls remained a flourishing aspect of Roman culture even as they were cast as Strangers to make room for Rome’s ownership of its past, just as the European and immigrant were cast similarly in the United States. But the Samnites and Native Americans were frozen in time, simultaneously rendered invisible and retained as an image of not just the conquest of wildness but the unifying and securing of a familiar space.

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Chapter
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Rome and America
Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging
, pp. 96 - 131
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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