The Production of Diplomatic Space in Ancient Rome

Activity: Academic and Industrial eventsConference, workshop or symposium


International Open Workshop Socio-Environmental Dynamics over the last 12,000 years: The Creation of Landscape V

Abstract of paper:
Diplomacy, as a system of communication (both verbal and non-verbal) and a means through which the identity of different groups is articulated, is inherently spatial. As Neumann has stressed in his work Diplomatic sites: a critical enquiry (2013), sites, as physical places, are to be understood as a process of human negotiation, which in turn results in the construction of social space. In the ancient world, even though there were no permanent embassies or consulates, the sites chosen for the reception, housing and entertainment of foreign envoys, as well as those chosen for the deposition and display of treaties and alliances, allow us to consider how inter-state relations were played out as part of social life.
Whilst any site of diplomacy will be defined by boundaries of identity and will articulate power relations through the construction of the space, which permits and regulates interactions between actors, the use made of the urban fabric of Rome and its environs to shape and manipulate Rome’s self-presentation and relations with other polities in the Mediterranean world is particularly striking. The control of the urban space, and the access, restriction, and movement through it serves to emphasise the legal and social status of individuals in relation to the city (and indeed subdivisions of the urban space), and therefore their relationship to Rome as a Mediterranean power.
This paper will address the question of how the urban space was defined in relation to foreign embassies, examining a few key arenas of interaction in terms of the loci chosen. It is necessary to understand the wider socio-political relevance of these sites in order to appreciate the ways in which Rome used the urban space as a means of diplomatic communication. In this respect Rome, as a site of diplomacy, was a key aspect in the diplomatic body language employed to structure relations between Mediterranean polities.
Period20 Mar 201724 Mar 2017
Held atKiel University, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational