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Thinking about Roman Imperialism: Postcolonialism, Globalisation and Beyond?

  • Andrew Gardner (a1)

For the last twenty years or so, archaeologists of Roman Britain, among other provinces, have been seeking ways of moving beyond the concept of ‘Romanisation’ as a framework for thinking about Roman imperialism. Many of the ideas proposed have been drawn from two related bodies of thought which have emerged as ways of understanding the contemporary world: postcolonialism and globalisation theory. While achieving significant success in transforming interpretations of the Roman world, applications of these approaches present some fresh problems of theoretical and practical coherence. These in turn point to important issues to do with the role of theory in Roman archaeology, issues which have rarely been tackled head-on but which present obstacles to interdisciplinary dialogue. The aim of this paper is to evaluate and compare the perspectives of postcolonial and globalisation theories, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and suggest some possibilities for linking the insights of these and other approaches to define a more holistic agenda for Roman archaeology.

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