James Gerrard: Travelling Britannia: A Diachronic Perspective on the Movement of People and Things on the Roman Periphery

Roman archaeology has always been interested in the movement of things and has become increasingly interested in the movement of people. Scientific techniques, such as isotope analysis, are shedding new light on the geographical origins of humans and animals.

These new approaches are important but they are fossilizing an old issue of archaeological interpretation: we can identify origins and points of deposition, but what about the bit in the middle?

This paper attempts to use analogies from other time periods to better understand the practicalities and temporalities of movement in Roman Britain. The social life of movement offers a means to better understand what travelling, from the French word travail (work), may really have been like for individuals of different social statuses in the Roman Empire.

Sarah Green: Mediterranean Animal Movements

People’s movements across the Mediterranean have always also involved nonhuman animals. Sometimes, they accompany people on the ride unbidden: rats, fleas, seagulls and various other such creatures come to mind. Others have been brought along deliberately for food, trade, and various tasks – carrying and pulling, security, even companionship, sports and exotic display.

In the past, the animals travelled closely with people, often being quarantined together, along with goods and correspondence, whenever an epidemic broke out. However, over the last fifty years or so, there have been radical changes in the way nonhuman animals are moved across the region, as well as transformations in the animals themselves, particularly livestock, but also wild animals. There have been changes in the places where the animals are kept and slaughtered, changes in the environments in which they live, and changes in the regulations and surveillance systems that attempt to control or monitor their movements. These changes have accompanied the development of the industrialisation of livestock farming and transportation, and the transnational standardisation of procedures and techniques for regulating and monitoring the movement of animals and their diseases.

In a place like the Mediterranean, which brings together a panoply of diverse environments, climates, histories, peoples and conditions, the paper argues that these efforts to make things work in the same way everywhere have in fact amplified the already existing hierarchies between different Mediterranean regions. Based on some brief ethnographic research across the region, the paper suggests that these efforts to standardise have been crosscut by other logics of relations and separations across the region, with the effect of emphasising differences rather than minimising them.

David Inglis: The World Flows with Mediterranean Wine: On the Roles of Mare Nostrum in Global Wine Dynamics

This paper is concerned with how the Mediterranean Sea has long been, and in many ways continues to be – although in ever more subtle and indirect ways – at the centre of the global workings of wine. Taking a very long-term perspective, we can see that wine takes on a major world-historical presence once it reaches the eastern shores of that sea and then spreads westwards. Wine thus goes from being a regional Eurasian product and culture, towards becoming more genuinely “global” in nature and scope, once it becomes entangled with, and then begins to shape, Mediterranean trade, politics, and cultural dynamics. It is Greco-Roman wine culture, shaped by the complex and wide-ranging dynamics of the Roman empire and its control over the Mediterranean, that is at the root of subsequent “globalizations” of wine. This is so first in post-Roman Europe, when wine knowledge travels out of the Mediterranean world ever further northwards, and then in the opening-up to wine of the so-called “New World” after 1500 CE, when Mediterranean wine-making travels to the Americas and the Pacific. In both cases, it is not earlier Near Eastern wine culture that travels. It is instead Mediterranean-centred practices of making and drinking wine which are exported ever further afield, bringing with them various cultural assumptions as well as forms of political power. Today, wherever the glass of wine in your hand may come from, both its crucial properties and the cultural constellations and connotations surrounding it, are ultimately traceable to what could crudely be called the multiple globalizations throughout history of the Mediterranean and its wine world. This is a complex fact that much wine scholarship today implies but has not yet named and discussed directly.

András Handl: Bones in Motion. Long Distance Relic Translations in Late Antiquity

The rapid rise of the relics’ cult in the fourth century changed ‘overnight’ the distinctively reserved classical attitude towards human’s mortal remains. After a short period of initial hesitation, martyrs’ bodies were more and more frequently exhumed and relocated, which happened in most cases in geographic vicinity to the tomb. Sometimes, however, bodies or body parts crossed the Roman Empire and travelled thousands of miles before they found their final(?) resting places. This contribution takes a closer look into the long distance translations of relics in the period before their commercialisation. It aims to explore their underlying mechanisms and asks, why martyrs’ bodies have been moved across the Empire in the first place; how the communities tied to the cult were evolving after the removal or arrival of the sacred bodies; and which narratives, customs and traditions have been ‘imported’ together with the mortal remains.

Pieter B. (Bärry) Hartog: Reading Acts in Motion. Travel and Glocalisation in the Acts of the Apostles

Focusing on the Acts of the Apostles, this paper aims to contribute to the recent trend across a wide range of academic disciplines to understand objects, texts, and people “in motion.” Written in the late 1st or early 2nd century CE, Acts presents its readers with an account of the development and spread of the early Jesus movement. The book starts at the Ascension in Jerusalem and ends at the arrival of the apostles’ message in Rome.

Travel and movement are ubiquitous in Acts, which makes this work an ideal candidate to explore the topics of identity, movement, and globalisation. Building on recent work on globalisation and glocalisation in the Roman Empire, I aim to show how portrayals of travel and intercultural knowledge exchange in Acts serve two interrelated purposes: 1) to offer an open and hence integretative view of the earliest Jesus movement; 2) to write this movement into the structures of the Roman world.

Antti Lampinen: Condemning Mobility. Identity Politics and the Fear of Reverse Colonization in the Roman Imperial Era

As many contemporary contexts demonstrate, mobility can generate fairly strong – if ill-defined – sources of fear and hostility between different groups of people. The question I will be approaching (even if very tentatively) is whether such considerations can be singled out in our ancient Greco-Roman sources. If identities are both expressed and read as symbols of human beings’ belonging, as one recent study (Ehala 2018) would have it, the obscuring of the signal (or signifier) part of outgroup identities – the visual signs that are cues to (stereotypical) assumptions of the meaning (signified) part of the identities – could threaten the ingroup’s power to identify and distinguish subaltern groups. In the context of an imperial state with plenty of evidence for cultural and phenotypic variance for its urban denizens – such as the Roman Empire – the dominant group could conceivably be motivated by the perceived loss of groupiness (their own and those of subaltern outgroups) to reinforce the distinctness of identities supposedly threatened by mobility. Increased subaltern mobility, then, can be perceived by the cultural insiders of the empire as leading to a crisis in governability, and hence be portrayed as a negative thing.

My paper suggests that in some cases of the High-Imperial material – perhaps particularly those aligned with the interests of the ‘Second Sophistic’ – we are seeing indications of Greek authors either expressing or reacting to fears about increased mobility threatening the distinctiveness of group identities in the Empire. Another potentially relevant concept may be the ‘narratives of reverse colonization’ (Arata 1996, 255-56): if an empire poses, in some ways, a challenge or even a threat to the identity of the imperial people, then mobility within the empire is the lived, structural vector of this threat. This has been theorised very well in the case of the fin-de-siècle European literature produced in the colonising societies of France and Britain, but there is perhaps some heuristic value in seeing whether this might apply to the case of the Roman Empire and its dominant – though interwoven – Greek and Roman identities. In the case of the Greeks, the complex ideas relating to Greek identity/-ies during the Second Sophistic seems even to have cast the Roman rule as an example of ‘mobility of the others’.


ARATA S. 1996, Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle. Identity and Empire, Cambridge University Press.

EHALA M. 2018, Signs of Identity. The Anatomy of Belonging, Routledge, London & New York.

TODOROV, T. 2010, The Fear of Barbarians. Beyond the Clash of Civilizations, tr. A. Brown, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London.


Lena Näre: Collective Imaginaries in Migration – Notes on How Hope and Rumours Move People

Why people move and migrate? This is one of the key questions in migration research but also a question that interests policy makers. The answers to this question vary, from rational decision-making theories that emphasise individuals’ calculations of gains and losses related to push and pull factors to explanations that underline the role of chance and ad hoc decision-making. This paper argues that individual-centred explanations are not sufficient as they do not account for the important role that communities and collective imagination play in migration. Migration is a deeply social and collective phenomenon. Drawing on the sociology and anthropology of hope as a collective force and on multi-sited, ethnographic fieldwork among Afghan refugees in Athens, Istanbul, Iran and Helsinki in 2017-2019, this paper investigates how hope and rumours as social forces move people across borders.

Elisa Pascucci & Daria Krivonos: Flowing Labour: Race, Gender and Intimacies in Transnational Mobilities

Drawing on our respective research on transnational migrant labour (Krivonos) and refugee and humanitarian logistics (Pascucci), in this paper we develop a theoretical approach that foregrounds the role of racialized and gendered labour in enabling transnational mobilities. Against the grain of somewhat celebratory discussions of how objects produce connections, which dominated earlier literature on materialities and transnationalism in the social sciences, we expand upon logistics and infrastructures approaches that emphasise the struggles that make things and people move and circulate. We thus see transnational flows as sites of friction embedded in global processes of racialization and accumulation. We illustrate our approach through the cases of Ukranian migrants in the Polish service economy and that of community care workers in enabling Syrian refugee migration to Jordan.

Greg Woolf: What We Take with Us, What We Leave Behind

It has long been recognised that movements of peoples resulted in movements of objects. There has also been much recent work done on how objects exchanged into neighbouring societies were revalued and put to new uses. This paper pursues a complementary tack, asking what travellers did choose to take with them and how the agency of these material diasporas impacts on the lived of travellers and settlers. I will illustrated this with examples from around the archaic and classical Mediterranean.


Miira Tuominen: The ’Movement’ of Aristotle’s Theory of Perception in the Commentaries of Philoponus and Pseudo-Simplicius (Priscian?)

Richard Sorabji once claimed that while Aristotle’s theory of perception requires a material change in the sense organ, late ancient commentators ’dematerialized’ his account (1991). If this is correct, it means that while Aristotle assumes that a physiological change in the organ is necessary for perception to take place, such an assumption was not assumed in the later tradition. In more recent scholarship, however, this claim has been questioned in the case of Philoponus (Lautner 2013; 2016; Caston 2005; Rapp 2001). Lautner argues that, for Philoponus, at least the senses of sight and touch necessitate some material change either in the optical pneuma (sight) or the flesh (sight), while Caston notes that Philoponus was neither a spiritualist or a literalist in his account of perception. Pseudo-Simplicius (Priscian?) seems to offer us a clear case of an immaterial theory of perception: perception is understood as the projection of logoi, i.e., an act of judgment made by reason. However, the soul needs to be stimulated or awakened to such projection, and the stimulation takes place through passive activity in the sense organs. I shall argue, on the one hand, that Philoponus requires a physiological change in the organs in all perception (of proper sensibles under the five senses). On the other hand, while there is an undeniable change of focus in Pseudo-Simplicius’ (Priscian’s?) theory of perception, the difference is not as big as might seem at the first sight. This is because Pseudo-Simplicius identifies perception with a judgment of reason, and Aristotle would agree that it is not necessarily directly cause by the change in the organs. It seems to be that Pseudo-Simplicius still assumes that some physiological change is necessary for sensations, perceptions properly speaking must be identified with judgments of reason, not sensations or sub-rational awareness of the proper sensibles.

Peter N. Singer: Students and Texts in Motion: Medical and Philosophical Intellectual Communities in the Second Century CE

The physical movement of both people and texts constituted a crucial part of Graeco-Roman intellectual life and of the formation of ancient intellectual communities and paedagogic practices. This paper focuses especially on the evidence afforded by Galen (2nd-3rd century CE), a major participant in both medical and philosophical communities, and a major chronicler of modes of intellectual communication, book distribution and scholarly practices in the Imperial period. I consider both the geographical distance between, and mobility of, teachers and students at this period and questions of the distribution, availability and study of paedagogically central texts. I aim to explore how these phenomena function in the process of knowledge exchange and the development of intellectual centres and communities.