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The dark side of the Empire: Roman expansionism between object agency and predatory regime

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2020

Manuel Fernández-Götz*
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, UK
Dominik Maschek
Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford, UK
Nico Roymans
Department of Archaeology, Classics and Near Eastern Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
*Author for correspondence: ✉


This debate piece offers a critique of some recent ‘new materialist’ approaches and their application to Roman expansionism, particularly those positing that the study of ‘Romanisation’ should be about ‘understanding objects in motion’—a perspective that carries important political and ethical implications. Here, the authors introduce the alternative notion of a ‘predatory’ political economy for conceptualising Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome. The aim is to illuminate the darker sides of Roman expansionism in order to produce more balanced and inclusive accounts. Two cases studies—the archaeology of the Roman conquest and of rural communities—illustrate the potential of such a perspective.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Antiquity Publications Ltd

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