Beyond the Romans: Posthuman Perspectives in Roman Archaeology [Hardback]

Irene Selsvold(Editor); Lewis Webb(Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789251364 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: TRAC Themes in Roman Archaeology | Volume: 3 | Year of Publication: 2020 | Language: English 176p, H11 x W8.75, b/w
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Beyond the Romans


This latest volume in the TRAC Themes in Theoretical Roman Archaeology series takes up posthuman theoretical perspectives to interpret Roman material culture. These perspectives provide novel and compelling ways of grappling with theoretical problems in Roman archaeology producing new knowledge and questions about the complex relationships and interactions between humans and non-humans in Roman culture and society.

Posthumanism constitutes a multitude of theoretical positions characterized by common critiques of anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism. In part, they react to the dominance of the linguistic turn in humanistic sciences. These positions do not exclude “the human”, but instead stress the mutual relationship between matter and discourse. Moreover, they consider the agency of “non-humans”, e.g., animals, material culture, landscapes, climate, and ideas, their entanglement with humans, and the situated nature of research. Posthumanism has had substantial impacts in several fields (including critical studies, archaeology, feminist studies, even politics) but have not yet emerged in any fulsome way in Classical Studies and Classical Archaeology.

This is the first volume on these themes in Roman Archaeology, aimed at providing valuable perspectives into Roman myth, art and material culture, displacing and complicating notions of human exceptionalism and individualist subjectivity. Contributions consider non-human agencies, particularly animal, material, environmental, and divine agencies, critiques of binary oppositions and gender roles, and the Anthropocene. Ultimately, the papers stress that humans and non-humans are entangled and imbricated in larger systems: we are all post-human.

Table of Contents

I. Irene Selsvold and Lewis Webb (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): Introduction

II. Linnea Åshede (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): Priapus can be anything: Bodies without borders in Roman art.

III. Filippo Carlà-Uhink (PH Heidelberg, Germany): Posthuman ambitions and forms of self-representation in the Roman Principate: The cases of Caligula and Nero.

IV. Vladimir Mihajlovic (University of Novi Sad, Serbia): The agency of Roman funerary monuments: from human to incarnated (biographical) entity?

V. Ariana Zapelloni Pavia (University of Michigan, USA): The materiality of ritual: the use of votive offerings to unravel ancient ritual practices.

VI. Lewis Webb (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): Semiviri vates: Posthuman visions of early Roman encounters with the Galli.

VII. Naomi Sykes and Holly Miller (University of Nottingham, UK): Animals of Empire – the trade, management and cultural meaning of fallow deer.

VIII. Lisa Lodwick (University of Reading/University of Oxford, UK): Exploring plant agency in the Roman world: Plants and people in Roman Britain.

IX. Jay Ingate (University of Kent, UK): Two parts Hydrogen, Oxygen one? Re-evaluating the nature of water in the Roman city.

X. Irene Selsvold (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): Roman archaeology and the Anthropocene.

XI. Oliver Harris (University of Leicester, UK): Closing discussion.

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