Sunday, March 11, 2012

CFP: Between Heaven and Earth: Law, Power, and the Social Order in Late Antiquity, Manchester, 13-16 September 2012

Source: Philevents.

Our conception of Roman justice has changed dramatically over the last few decades.  In the English-speaking world, there has been a decisive shift away from the constitutionally based paradigm, toward an idea of the administration of justice as a heuristic process through which Roman political elites sought, on an ad hoc basis, to rationalise and justify Roman power in the provinces.

The conference ‘Between Heaven and Earth: Law, Ideology, and the Social Order in Late Antiquity’ will assess the ‘state of play’ regarding the administration of Roman law from the Constitutio Antoniniana (212 CE) to the end of Antiquity.  It is a period characterised by revolutionary changes. The extension of citizenship, the re-organization of provincial administration under Diocletian, and the changing ideological frame-work underpinning the emperor’s power each triggered significant developments.  The conference will consider problems including, but not limited to the following:

  • The changing balance of practice: arbitration, municipal, provincial, and episcopal courts
  • Justice and the God(s): the changing ideological foundation of jurisdictio
  • Deviance, Discipline, and Persecution: From superstitio to ‘heresy’
  • Law and the social order: ius colonatus, patria potestas, marriage legislation
  • Codes, canons, collationes: changing practices of collection and communication

The format of the meeting will not be based exclusively on lectures. Rather, we envisage a mix of formats for generating discussion and exchanging expertise, including:

  1. Primary source masterclass Contributors will pre-circulate key primary sources on a givien topic, and to lead or contribute to seminar-style discussion and/or evaluation of their significance
  2. Historiographic masterclass Contributors will pre-circulate key secondary sources on a givien topic, and will lead a seminar-style assessment and/or re-evaluation of their significance. The sources can either be ‘landmark’ publications or publications whose importance has been overlooked or misunderstood.
  3. First person retrospective Contributors will offer a powerpoint talk or a seminar-style discussion of pre-circulated material, or a combination): In this case you would offer an informal overview of one or more of your own previous publications (similar to the American Academy of Religion ‘How My Mind Has Changed’ series or the Torino Petersen seminars).  Many scholars—and not only younger scholars!—will be intensely interested to hear ‘from the horse’s mouth’ what is really at stake in key publications.  This is especially true for publications that are not in one’s own native language—sometimes a clearer understanding of the landscape or context of a scholar’s work changes one’s understanding dramatically.
  4. Overview retrospective involving a retrospective on a wider historiographical area
  5. Roundtable We welcome suggestions for plenary roundtables on key topics, along with suggestions of individuals who might contribute a five-minute ex verbal introduction of a pre-circulated handout.
  6. Lecture (in order to make the most of the opportunity to exchange a deadline of 1 September is set for submission of lecture handouts.  This will allow them to be pre-circulated to other conference participants at the same time as the ask to please plan to pre-circulate your hand

Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2012

Proposals should include a title, indication of source source material to be discussed, and a short paragraph describing the argument (in the case of lectures) or theme (in the case of other formats) Please feel free to indicate an interest in more than one format for the material you wish to propose.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with questions or suggestions! These should be addressed to Kate Cooper ( in the first instance.

Note on Financial arrangements: we will not have firm information about funding until April, so we would be grateful if colleagues could let us know whether their participation depends on partial or full subsidy.  Especially but not only in the case of younger scholars, we will make every effort to support the participation of scholars who do not have access to travel funds from their home institution.