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International Conference: Italy in the 5th Century
Wann : 21.03.2019 09:30 - 23.03.2019 13:30
Art : Tagung

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International Conference: Italy in the 5th Century. Social, Political and Economic Transformations in a Society under Stress, 395-493 CE

21.03.: Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Altemps, Teatro
22.-23.03.: Istituto Svizzero di Roma

The goal of this conference is to better understand a crucial moment in the history of Italy: In the fifth century CE, having gone through decades of civil war and being exposed to external threats, the Western Roman Empire disintegrated into a group of successor states – a political rupture which had profound social, economic and cultural effects. Italy, which for centuries had been the seat and ideological heart of the Roman empire, was deeply affected by these events and offers a paradigmatic example for the ensuing transformations. Pre-existing social relations dissolved or were transformed, property was re-distributed, and the economy was re-organized. Most prominently, after decades of political and military turmoil, Italy ceased to be ruled by an emperor: In 476, Odoacer, a senior officer of the imperial army, removed Romulus, the last Roman emperor proclaimed in the West, from office. Henceforth, Italy was governed by kings and a military élite whose members claimed to belong to an ethnicity that was distinct from their civilian subjects.

The purpose of the conference is to develop a new synthetic perspective on this period of swift social change in Italy. Our aim is to explore the ways in which different social groups responded to the diverse threats to the old social order and how they adapted to new conditions. Social and economic transformations will play an important role in our discussions. So will the rise of religious institutions, developments in religious practices and attitudes (asceticism, liturgy, charity), changing self-images and strategies of self-fashioning among the elites as well as other cultural developments. In addition to these systematic perspectives, the conference will also adopt a regional approach that analyzes demographic and economic developments as well as changes in settlement patterns from one region to another. By exploring how groups in different regions of Italy coped differently with the challenges they faced from the social and political ruptures, we aim to produce a comprehensive and nuanced picture of Italian society, politics and culture in the fifth century.

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Abteilung Rom

Via Sicilia 136
00187 Rom


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