September 8, 2009

Urbanism Schmurbanism

I think I'm scrapping the idea of urbanism for my dissertation, as I can't really see it going anywhere exciting. What I do want to focus on are the immigrants I've found through Sr and O. My advisor suggested adding stuff on identity - I guess that's still the hot topic in anthropology these days. But without much archaeological or artifactual context, identity is going to prove a bit difficult as a topic around which to center an entire dissertation.

My thoughts at the moment relate to border crossings - both literal and figurative - as a way to conceptualize the diss and focus it on immigrants. I can't seem to find any good books or articles, though, that go beyond identifying physical limits - the Roman frontier or the various limites of the Empire. Maybe I have to go further in the literature on romanization to find what I'm looking for, or maybe what I'm thinking about doesn't really exist as an area of inquiry in Roman archaeology/history yet. But since historians of Europe have been writing about boundaries in terms of territory/space, citizenship, and identity for close to a decade, I assume that historians of Rome have started writing about it too. If not, it makes my dissertation that much easier to write - I can say something interesting about human mobility within a large space that was, at the macro level, physically almost borderless (up to the limites) but which had distinct cultural areas (such as the Britannii and the Alemanni).

Suggestions for things to read - particularly about space, borders, boundaries, movement, and mobility (e.g., migration, transnationalism, diaspora, military, tourism, trade) - are welcome.

1 comments:

Chris Cameron said...

Sometimes I wonder why Anthropology always chooses to focus on divisions ad nauseum. I think that commonalities between populations get lost in the shuffle an awful lot. Just something to think about -- but maybe that line of thinking is why academia was a constant battle for me.

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