Exploring Roman identities: case-studies from Spain and Britain in the second century AD. In two volumes.
University of Southampton, School of Humanities, Department of Archaeology,
Research into roman archaeology has focussed around the study of romanization,
whether implicitly or explicitly. This discourse is increasingly criticized as overly
constricting; yet proffered alternatives seem unable to break away from its language and
underlying prejudices. In this thesis, romanization and the exploration of change are
rejected, along with the fundamental opposition of 'roman' and 'native'.
It is proposed that a synchronic exploration of social practice will offer an alternative
avenue for understanding the spread of roman power. This thesis offers a series of urban
case studies from Spain and Britain, through which the question of social identities is
explored. The material analysed consists of the public buildings and the epigraphic
record, both treated as material culture implicated in social practice. The idea of power
as a dialectic is explicit throughout.
A series of themes are addressed; these are traditionally seen as fundamental to the
process of romanization. Here they are viewed as written into the fabric of the town:
they are recreated through the frequent, repetitive actions of the members of these
communities; in turn, they also seen to constrain the possibilities of action. These
themes are the ideology of urbanism, the ideology of the emperor as supreme political
authority, and religion. Detailed analysis reveals how these permeate the daily
experiences of the peoples of the empire. Finally, the'topic of differential experience is
explored: that roman identity fragmented through other aspects of social identity, and
that these are reproduced within the urban setting.
This thesis demonstrates that there was no paradigm of being roman; but that it
included within it a myriad of different experiences, and that the very structures which
recreated Roman power also served to explode its unity. It offers a useful perspective on
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