Call for Papers: Legacies of the Roman Republic: Law, text, and Spaces 18-19 January 2024

Call for Papers

Administrative professionalization has conventionally been the hallmark of a modern state. The conceptual separation of the office and its holder has long defined the European way of governance. The origin of this European tradition of the separation of public and private has often been seen in the Roman Republican political organization with its strict responsibilities, term limits and defined powers of its magistracies who operated in public spaces. Nonetheless, this view has been challenged by recent research on the Roman Republic and its legacy. The conference aims to build a new interpretation of the Roman Republican governance: a comprehensive re-evaluation of the ancient Roman administrative tradition and its links with the European heritage through the lens of Republican and administrative space. The conference seeks to investigate this neglected issue through the spatial analysis of power relations and meanings. The significance of these issues extends much beyond this: the development of administrative space in the European context amounts to nothing less than the emergence of the concept of public.


The conference advances the idea of republicanism through changes that are addressed via developments in the political, economic and social context from the Roman Republic to the Empire and beyond. While much of the earlier research on Republican administration has been constitutional, focused on authority or the individual magistrates, the conference encourages a new interpretation through spatial and topographical analysis, using unconventional methodological tools to explore the social and cultural dimensions of legal and administrative space. At the center are the confrontation of ideas and their contexts from the Roman Republic to modern republicanism, building on the questions: How did the conflict between Republican ideals, political power, and administrative practices transform the spaces of administration? How did this conflict change the social topography of Rome and other cities and the public and private spheres of governance? How did Rome become the model for the Western administrative state?


Themes (suggested, but not limited to):

•   The idea of Republican space
•   Administration and space in practice
•   Republican, democratic, and authoritarian architecture?
•   Distinction of public and private in administration and the everyday
•   Development of institutional space from the Roman Republic to the modern era
•    New methodologies to study Republican administrative space
•   Gender, intersectionality and public space

•    Archaeology and topography of the Roman Republic, and magistrates


Keynote speakers: Valentina Arena, Dunia Filippi, Greg Woolf and Aldo Schiavone.


The conference is organized by the ERC-funded project Law, Governance and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition (SpaceLaw), based at the University of Helsinki. There is no conference fee. The organizers are unfortunately unable to aid in either travel or accommodation arrangements or the cost of travel or accommodation.

Abstracts should be 300 words maximum. In the conference, presenting the papers should last at most 20 minutes and be delivered in English. Abstracts should be sent to lawgovernanceandspace@gmail.comThe extended deadline for abstracts is 1st October 2023.

Questions may be sent to