Despite what history has taught us about imperialism's destructive effects on colonial societies, many classicists continue to emphasize disproportionately the civilizing and assimilative nature of the Roman Empire and to hold a generally favorable view of Rome's impact on its subject peoples. Imperialism, Power, and Identity boldly challenges this view using insights from postcolonial studies of modern empires to offer a more nuanced understanding of Roman imperialism.
Rejecting outdated notions about Romanization, David Mattingly focuses instead on the concept of identity to reveal a Roman society made up of far-flung populations whose experience of empire varied enormously. He examines the nature of power in Rome and the means by which the Roman state exploited the natural, mercantile, and human resources within its frontiers. Mattingly draws on his own archaeological work in Britain, Jordan, and North Africa and covers a broad range of topics, including sexual relations and violence; census-taking and taxation; mining and pollution; land and labor; and art and iconography. He shows how the lives of those under Rome's dominion were challenged, enhanced, or destroyed by the empire's power, and in doing so he redefines the meaning and significance of Rome in today's debates about globalization, power, and empire.
Imperialism, Power, and Identity advances a new agenda for classical studies, one that views Roman rule from the perspective of the ruled and not just the rulers.
David J. Mattingly is professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Leicester and a fellow of the British Academy. His many books include An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, Tripolitania, Farming the Desert, Archaeology and Desertification, and The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization.
"Imperialism, Power, and Identity is an ambitious attempt to map the transformation of lifestyles and experience among Rome's provincial subjects in the first three centuries AD. . . . This is 'history from below' at its best."--Peter Thonemann, Times Literary Supplement
"The title of Mattingly's book is no false advertising. His treatment of what empire and imperialism are; how power permeated all relationships and transactions--personal social, political, sexual and economic--throughout the Empire; in what ways the inexhaustible appetite for resources in Roman imperial times wasted human lives and did lasting damage to natural landscapes; and how individuals and groups conceived of their identities under Roman imperial rule, all make us experience what it was like to be part of its power system."--Tom Palaima, Times Higher Education Supplement
"For a serious academic treatment--this is no light read--his conclusions can be surprisingly uncomfortable, especially for those who prefer to see the artistic fruits of Roman civilization without the human suffering that accompanied them. This latest volume is essential for anyone wishing to keep up with the debate."--Current Archaelogy
"Mattingly presents a personal reflection on Roman imperialism in which he rejects the essentially static concept of Romanization in favor of a more dynamic model."--Choice
"[T]his volume is provocative, passionate and personal. It ranges widely across time, space and categories of evidence. Importantly, it is a contribution which does not unquestioningly import and impose concepts such as post-colonial theory, but rather it critically examines their value, refines them and contributes back to wider contemporary debates."--Robert Witcher, Classical Review
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by David J. Mattingly: