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Questions of the American founding are organized around debates about its republican, liberal, or religious heritage. I locate the founding not in a historical moment but in a mythology reenacted in the cultural imagination. In that narrative, which America shares with Rome, the community is continually reconstituted by ongoing refoundings of Strangers who are dislocated from their own place and past. Where foundings are usually placed in service to securing an identity, the Roman and American foundings unsettle identity.The Introduction provides an argument for how we can understand the tensions that lie in the formation of identity and narratives of belonging, and how we can, in turn, draw on Rome to explore these tensions in American culture and politics.
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