Seminar: Migration and religion in ancient Rome

Migration and religious identity in ancient Rome (and present day Europe)

Date: 3-17 December 2018

Deadline for applications: 15 October 2018

The Roman empire is one of the largest and most stable empires in world history. By conquest and diplomacy, Rome connected and integrated widely diverse communities from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, and from the Rhine to the Nile. The new political constellation enabled large-scale mobility within the entire known world. Communities of Roman citizens were sent out to settle landscapes previously inhabited by foreign peoples and gods; large groups of migrants moved to Rome, by which new customs, rituals and gods migrated to the heart of the empire. How could the wildly diverse groups of migrants acquire a place, metaphorically as well as literally, in the Roman world? What was Rome’s position in the process? There is broad consensus that increased mobility of people and cults were a key feature in the heyday of Roman imperial expansion, but has at the same time been seen as the cause of its subsequent Decline and Fall.
In this course, we explore how both Rome and migrant communities managed and accommodated migration, and how the applied strategies of inclusion and exclusion relate to the stability of the empire. We approach the question of migration and imperial success by examining the relationship between mobility, religion and citizenship.
Roman imperial success has often been explained by its particular form of citizenship, which was relatively open to non-Romans. Rather than taking a strictly juridical perspective to Roman citizenship, we focus instead on its religious dimension: citizenship and religious identity are closely related in antiquity, where being part of a community meant partaking in the rituals and festivals prescribed by the religious calendar. Approaching citizenship as a cultural construction, we investigate both communities of Roman migrants such as soldiers and colonists that were sent out, and new communities of non-Romans who settled in the city of Rome. Our point of departure is that the force of religious rituals in ancient communities is multifaceted: it can enhance integration, but can conversely also underpin segregation. It can embrace plurality, but can also enable Blut und Boden rhetoric.
How did Rome treat existing cults and rituals in newly conquered territories? How did the city of Rome itself change as a result of these interactions with foreign gods? What was the religious position of migrant groups in Rome? The answers to these questions became physically visible in the city, where a rich memory landscape developed. Monuments, temples, inscriptions and tombs evoked age-old Roman conquests and displayed (religious) exotica. At the same time, new migrant neighbourhoods with new cults and rituals popped up. Intellectually, the impact of expansion and migration led to heated debates about the essence of Rome; about who is Roman; and who can join the Roman citizen body.

During the course, we will visit an array of archaeological sites in Rome and its environs to study their significance for our research question. Participants are invited to choose concrete case-studies that illuminate our understanding of ancient migration.

The parallels with current societal issues related to migration in Europe and the Mediterranean, and perhaps most vividly in Italy, are evident, and not coincidental. The discussion about the unique, open form of citizenship of the Roman empire, invites us to contemplate the access to citizenship and associated rights and responsibilities in the present world. The evening program will be dedicated to the present challenges of migration, citizenship and exploitation, in the form of discussions inspired by guest lectures, (Italian) films, and media from the full political spectrum.

Dr. Tesse D. Stek (KNIR) and guest lecturers

Target group and admission
The course is open to a maximum of 12 selected Master, Research Master and PhD students in Archaeology, Ancient History, Classics, Contemporary (Italian, European) History, Political Science, Philosophy, International Studies, International Relations, Cultural Anthropology, (Developmental) Sociology and related fields enrolled in one of the KNIR partner universities (RU, RUG, UL, UU, UvA, VU).

Course format and assignments
The course is organized by and hosted at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR). It consists of a two-week intensive seminar period in Rome and environs, with lectures, assignments and on-site visits and discussions. During the seminar, each participant delivers an oral presentation at an appropriate archaeological/historical site or museum in Rome.
Before and after the seminar participating students work independently on two written assignments:
– a written preparatory assignment (1.500 words)
– a concluding essay (5.000 words)

Credits and assessment
The study load is the equivalent of 6 ECTS (168 hours). Each student should arrange with his/her home coordinator whether the course can be a part of the existing curriculum. After successful completion of the course the KNIR provides a certificate mentioning study load and evaluation.
The study load is based on:
a) Before the seminar in Rome, independent study of course material and preparatory assignment: 1 ECTS (28 hours)
b) Intensive seminar in Rome (14 days): active participation, oral presentation and essay proposal: 4 ECTS (112 hours)
c) After the seminar: essay of 5.000 words: 1 ECTS (28 hours)
Assessment takes place on the basis of the preparatory assignment, based on the study of course material (10%), active participation and on-site presentation (40%), and the concluding essay (50%).

Tuition and lodging at the KNIR is free for selected participants from the above mentioned Dutch universities. Personal expenses and meals are not included. Students receive a €100 reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after submission of their final essay.

Facilities in Rome
All participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical center of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Institute.

Application and admission
Students can apply via the link below; include in your application:
• a letter of motivation
• a cv
• for (R)MA students: a recent list of grades provided by your university

Apply before
15 October via the link below.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621