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CALL.26.02.2021: Power,Coercion, and Consent:Gramsci's Hegemony and the Roman Republic- Roma (Italy)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: British School at Rome (Roma, Italy)




The debate about the definition of hegemony is still heated among scholars working on Antonio Gramsci’s thought. In the Notebooks, Gramsci discusses one of the most iconic images of power ever produced: Machiavelli's Centaur. This represents graphically the double nature of power: the co-existence of consensus and force. Arguing against the classical idea of Perry Anderson’s (1976) “antinomies of Antonio Gramsci”, Peter Thomas recently contended (in his The Gramscian Moment, 2009) that Gramsci’s hegemony is actually a dialectical process, resolved in the “integral State”, thus re-inscribing hegemony in a solid Hegelian and Marxist perspective. However, the employ of hegemony as a category in historiographical interpretation is still often limited to a cultural domination through consensus, especially in English-speaking scholarship. This reading has tended to exclude any form of coercion from the study of consensus-building.

Reflecting upon violence and consensus cannot ignore the philosophical debates about power. The definition of this concept as well as the discussion of power relations is still fundamental to historiographical thought; perceptions and practices of power and resistance are also part of each individual’s everyday life. Recent attempts to bring Gramsci’s thought in dialogue with the work of Michel Foucault suggest a broader interest on the subject: theorical works such as Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) can be placed side a side with interdisciplinary methodological efforts such as the volume Gramsci and Foucault: a Reassessment (2015) edited by David Kreps.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars of Roman history and of political philosophy, by reflecting upon the Roman Republic from its origins to the Principate (509 BC-27 BC). The last thirty years saw an intense academic debate on the form of government of the Roman res publica, thanks to fundamental contributions such as Fergus Millar’s The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic (1998) and Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp’s Rekonstruktion einer Republik. Die politische Kultur des antiken Rom und die Forschung der letzten Jahrzehnte (2004). During the last decade, many other contributions on the masses in the Roman experience were published, discussing popular or plebeian culture, and the plebs’ political practices, such as, for instance, Cyril Courrier’s La plèbe de Rome et sa culture (2014). This workshop aims to address this ongoing debate moving between models and practices of politics, in order to investigate elements of coercion in power structures mainly based on consensus.

Hence, we invite papers on the history of the Roman Republic and political philosophy regarding the relationship between power, consensus, and force. Submissions of papers are invited in, but in no way limited to, the following topics: relationship between force and consensus in the Roman Republic; Gramsci’s hegemony and interpretation of related writings (either from the Prison Notebooks or not); power, consensus, repression and resistance in other writers including Machiavelli, Spinoza, Foucault, post-Marxists, and Italian theory; republican forms of rule of power and grassroots perspectives on power and resistance; the political role of popular masses in the Roman Republic; republican elites and the organization of power; gender/race and Gramsci’s hegemony.

We invite papers in English from doctoral students, early career/ postdoctoral researchers and academics in historical, literary, philosophic, archaeological or artistic disciplines, working either on the Roman Republic or on relevant themes in the field of political philosophy. Abstracts no longer than 300 words should be sent to before 26 February 2021. Please, send your abstract in PDF format, along with your personal data (name, position, and affiliation) in the email body.

The workshop will take place at the British School at Rome on 17 June 2021, with the possibility of joining it online. Should any issue linked to the present global situation prevent us from holding the event in presence, the workshop would be turned into an online event. Two speakers already agreed to contribute: Prof. Christopher J. Smith (Roman History, University of St. Andrews) and Dr. Francesca Antonini (Intellectual History, Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen).

For further information and queries, please do not hesitate to contact Michele Bellomo ( or Emilio Zucchetti (

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