PUBLIC TALK: Law in the Shadow of Empire: Imperial Ideology and Indigenous Agency in the Roman World
|Law in the Shadow of Empire: Imperial Ideology and Indigenous Agency in the Roman World
A public lecture by Dr Kimberley Czajkowski, Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Edinburgh and UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.
The Roman Empire was “an empire of laws”. Or was it? If it was, whose laws and what would the functions of such laws be? The Roman imperial project had a long afterlife in the language and legal cultures of later empires, still felt in the 20th century. As such, it has long been studied systematically as a unified legal system. Recent work has called this assumption into question, and emphasized the pluralistic, multifaceted and even constructed nature of Roman law in the earlier period. The centrally based imperial ideology, in which Rome’s law was a “civilizing” force on her subjects, did not necessarily reflect the everyday reality of indigenous populations in the vast areas subject to Roman rule, with their multiple histories and cultures.
This lecture will consider the ramifications of the Roman “empire on the cheap” model for the construction and practice of law, and the role of indigenous communities in this process: this skeletal structure gave imperial subjects the opportunity to “write back” and assert their own understandings of law and empire. This in turn has implications for how we should understand the relationship between rulers and ruled, and the way that law is both imagined and used on the peripheries of the Roman world.
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