Thursday, 30 March, 2017
Dr. Clifford Ando presents “Knowing the Roman State: The Epistemics of Sovereignty.” Was the Roman empire a territorial state? More precisely, when did the Romans come to think of themselves as ruling over a contiguous territory and governing all its people? These questions become more urgent as we reflect on the very real limitations on state power in premodern societies. Recent scholarship has urged that Roman words for units of rule—including the ancestors of the words "empire" and "province"—only acquired a stable meaning pointing to a unit of territory around the turn of the millennium. The lecture traces the history of Roman concepts and technologies for imagining sovereignty over territory.
Clifford Ando is David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor and professor of classics, history and law and co-director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Religions at the University of Chicago and research fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa. His research focuses on the history of religion, law, and government in the Roman and post-Roman worlds. His books include Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (2000), which won the Society for Classical Studies’ Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit; The Matter of the Gods (2008); Law, Language and Empire in the Roman Tradition (2011); and Roman Social Imaginaries (2015).