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Look Inside Rome, China, and the Barbarians

Rome, China, and the Barbarians
Ethnographic Traditions and the Transformation of Empires


  • Publication planned for: April 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108473958

£ 90.00

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About the Authors
  • This book addresses a largely untouched historical problem: the fourth to fifth centuries AD witnessed remarkably similar patterns of foreign invasion, conquest, and political fragmentation in Rome and China. Yet while the Western Roman Empire was never reestablished, China was reunified at the end of the sixth century. Following a comparative discussion of earlier historiographical and ethnographic traditions in the classical Greco-Roman and Chinese worlds, the book turns to the late antique/early medieval period, when the Western Roman Empire 'fell' and China was reconstituted as a united empire after centuries of foreign conquest and political division. Analyzing the discourse of ethnic identity in the historical texts of this later period, with original translations by the author, the book explores the extent to which notions of Self and Other, of 'barbarian' and 'civilized', help us understand both the transformation of the Roman world as well as the restoration of a unified imperial China.

    • Gives a comparative reassessment of ethnographic practices and world views in these ancient civilizations and their reception in late antiquity
    • Puts forward an original theory for the understanding of the critical, yet unexplored, divergence in ancient imperial trajectories
    • Makes use of primary texts in all of the original languages, with translations by the author
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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108473958
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • contains: 12 maps
    • availability: Not yet published - available from April 2020
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ethnography in the Classical Age
    2. The Barbarian and Barbarian antitheses
    3. Ethnography in a post-Classical Age: the ethnographic tradition in the Wars of Procopius and in the Jin shu 晉書
    4. New Emperors and ethnographic clothes: the representation of Barbarian rulers
    5. The confluence of ethnographic discourse and political legitimacy: rhetorical arguments on the legitimacy of Barbarian kingdoms

  • Author

    Randolph B. Ford, State University of New York, Albany
    Randolph B. Ford currently teaches Roman history at the State University of New York, Albany. He has previously taught Roman history, Rome-China comparative history, and Latin language at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He obtained his doctorate at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, where his dissertation received the Dean's Outstanding Dissertation in the Humanities Award. His research has concentrated on comparative approaches to the study of the Greco-Roman world and ancient China.

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