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CALL. 30.11.2020: Women, wealth, and power in the Roman Republic - Online (Zoom)





ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Catherine Steel (University of Glasgow); Lewis Webb (University of Gothenburg).



Wealth constituted power and status in the Roman Republic. Despite elite claims to frugality, acquiring, accumulating, and transmitting various forms of capital lay at the heart of elite practices in Italy and drove elite expansionist moves throughout the Mediterranean. Elite families and networks in Italy, Roman and non-Roman, were united par le capital et pour le capital.

An influx of wealth from agriculture, trade, and warfare from the fourth through second centuries BCE radically transformed Roman society and fuelled intense status competitions among the elite. In Rome itself, wealth was a prerequisite for seeking and obtaining the public offices that granted elite Roman men political power and conferred enhanced status on themselves and their families; in the pursuit of these, elite families mobilised, displayed, and expended capital throughout Italy and beyond. The interconnections between wealth and power for Roman men in the Republic have been well explored, but Roman women remain either absent or marginal in key studies from Israël Shatzman’s Senatorial Wealth and Roman Politics (1975) onwards.

At the same time, studies examining elite Roman women—from Friedrich Münzer’s foundational Römische Adelsparteien und Adelsfamilien (1920) onwards to Francesca Rohr Vio’s more recent Le custodi del potere: Donne e politica alla fine della repubblica Romana (2019) and Susan Treggiari’s Servilia and her family (2019)—have long recognised the breadth of their wealth, their conspicuous display thereof, and their various public roles.

Mindful of these latter studies, our conference seeks out the various relationships between women, wealth, and power in the Roman Republic, as well as the changes and continuities among them. Some possible lines of enquiry include the intersections between Roman women and:

1. Forms of wealth (e.g., capital, money, property, resources) and power (informal and formal).

2. Wealth and politics (informal and formal).

3. Wealth and status (e.g., informal and formal status, status groups, prestige).

4. Wealth and social networks.

5. Wealth and social mobility (e.g., marital alliances, exogamy, endogamy, nouitas, nobilitas).

6. Wealth and regulation (e.g., property rights, legislation, court cases).

7. Wealth and visibility (e.g. conspicuous displays).

8. Wealth and power in crisis (e.g., during external wars, internal conflicts, financial crises, proscriptions).

9. The census.

10. Benefactions (to individuals, groups, the state, and the gods).

11. Inheritance strategies (planning, execution) and the transmission of wealth.

12. Spatial aspects of wealth and power (physical property, monuments, processions etc.).

13. Wealth and power in Rome, Italy, and beyond (e.g. provinces).

Potential contributors are welcome to propose papers in these or other adjacent areas.

The conference will take place digitally via Zoom in late May 2021. There will be no registration fee.

Potential contributors are invited to submit an abstract of 300 words and a bio of 100 words to the conference convenors and by November 30, 2020 at the latest.

Confirmed speakers include Christian Hjorth Bagger (Aalborg Universitet), Lea Beness (Macquarie University), Tom Hillard (Macquarie University), Bronwyn Hopwood (University of New England), Christiane Kunst (Universität Osnabrück), Carsten Hjort Lange (Aalborg Universitet), Aglaia McClintock (Università degli Studi del Sannio di Benevento), Kit Morrell (University of Queensland), Alessandra Valentini (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Francesca Rohr Vio (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), and Kathryn Welch (University of Sydney).

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