Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire

Posted by pt91 at Dec 03, 2010 11:10 AM |
Publication by University of Leicester archaeologist challenges traditional views on Roman society

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 03 December 2010

Despite what history has taught us about imperialism's destructive effects on colonial societies, many classicists continue to emphasize disproportionately the civilizing and assimilative nature of the Roman Empire and to hold a generally favorable view of Rome's impact on its subject peoples. Imperialism, Power, and Identity boldly challenges this view using insights from postcolonial studies of modern empires to offer a more nuanced understanding of Roman imperialism.

Rejecting outdated notions about Romanization, David Mattingly, Professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Leicester, focuses instead on the concept of identity to reveal a Roman society made up of far-flung populations whose experience of empire varied enormously. He examines the nature of power in Rome and the means by which the Roman state exploited the natural, mercantile, and human resources within its frontiers. Mattingly draws on his own archaeological work in Britain, Jordan, and North Africa and covers a broad range of topics, including sexual relations and violence; census-taking and taxation; mining and pollution; land and labor; and art and iconography. He shows how the lives of those under Rome's dominion were challenged, enhanced, or destroyed by the empire's power, and in doing so he redefines the meaning and significance of Rome in today's debates about globalization, power, and empire.

Imperialism, Power, and Identity advances a new agenda for classical studies, one that views Roman rule from the perspective of the ruled and not just the rulers.

The book is available at a cost of £27.95 

David J. Mattingly is professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Leicester and a fellow of the British Academy. His many books include Tripolitania, Farming the Desert, An Imperial Possession, Archaeology and Desertification, and The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization.


"Mattingly critically examines accepted ideas about the Roman Empire and evaluates them on the basis of recent archaeological analyses. He provides excellent, up-to-date discussions of such issues as Roman imperialism, colonialism, and the expression of identity through material culture. This book will be important in providing a set of new ideas about many current themes regarding the Roman world."--Peter S. Wells, author of The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe

"This is an important book by a major scholar. David Mattingly is among the most prolific and skilled archaeologists of his generation, and very rare in the ability to produce wide-ranging works of synthesis that do not steer clear of controversy. The arguments that this book will spark are arguments that are worth having."--David S. Potter, author of The Roman Empire at Bay

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