Spaces of Roman Constitutionalism 26.-28.9.2019

"Spaces of Roman Constitutionalism" conference, 26-28 September 2019, Tieteiden talo (House of Science and Letters), Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki

The conference is open to all and there is no registration required. You can read the abstracts of the presentations (pdf, opens in a new tab).

Thursday 26.9.2019

Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki, room 505

12:00-13:00 Keynote: Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp (University of Cologne): Governing a City-State. Magistrates, Assemblies and Public Space in Republican Rome

13:15-15:45 Session 1: Magistrates, assemblies and the transformation of the political spaces

Session chair: Kaius Tuori

Anna-Maria Wilskman (University of Helsinki): Starting Your Career in Politics: The Places of decemviri stlitibus iudicandis

Martin Sunnqvist (Lund University): Cum veritate et legum observatione? – The Oath of Judges in Ancient Rome

Coffee break (30 mins)

Alberto Barrón Ruiz de la Cuesta (Universidad de Cantabria): Among priests and magistrates: towards the function of the seviri Augustales

Márlio Aguiar (University of São Paulo): Iurisdictio, ius dicere and ius dicentis officium in Roman legal tradition between the Republic and the Principate

Coffee break (30 mins)

16:15-17:45 Session 2: Information about administration

Session chair: Antonio Lopez Garcia

Tuuli Ahlholm (University of Oxford): Public figures? The display of numerical state information and the values of Roman Republicanism

Kaius Tuori (University of Helsinki): How did the Romans know about administration? Knowledge production and sharing between mos maiorum, oral tradition and expert literature

Alexei Zadorojnyi (University of Liverpool/University of Helsinki): Exempla and the City: Topography of Power in Valerius Maximus

Friday 27.9.2019

Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki, room 505

10:00-11:00 Keynote: Harriet Flower (Princeton University): In domo gravissimae feminae: Space for Politics in Houses owned by Women

11:15-12:45 Session 3: Physical spaces of administration

Session chair: Emilia Mataix Ferrandiz

Roman M. Frolov (Universität Bremen/P.G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University): Invisible but Inviolable? The pomerium, the Sphere domi, and Pompeius as a Promagistrate in 57–52 BC

Jessica Bartz (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Multivalence of urban spaces in Rome. The transformation of spaces on behalf of temporal structures and their chronological development

Antonio Lopez Garcia (University of Helsinki): How was the headquarters of Praefectura Urbis during the empire? A review of written sources and archaeology

14:45-16:15 Session 4: Mental and conceptual space

Session chair: Samuli Simelius

Vesa Heikkinen (University of Helsinki): Pinpointing the sensus communis - public space and the meaning of 'common sense'

Marsha McCoy (Southern Methodist University): A Res Publica of Letters? Spaces of Roman Constitutionalism and the Circulation of Cicero’s Correspondence in the Late Republic

Ben Salisbury (University of Birmingham): Defining a Public Sphere at Rome in the Late Roman Republic

Coffee break (30 mins)

16:45-17:45 Keynote: Catherine Steel (University of Glasgow): Space and the res publica in the oratory of the Republic

Saturday 28.9.2019

Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki, room 404

10:00-11:00 Keynote: Clifford Ando (University of Chicago): The Perils of Republican Magistracy: Elite Competition in Space and Time

11:15-12:45 Session 5: Social space

Session chair: Vesa Heikkinen

Samuli Simelius (University of Helsinki): Social space, archaeology and Roman urbanism

Joel Allen (City University of New York): Public Space at Nighttime in the Roman Republic

Brendan McCarthy (Utah Valley University): Vici: The Shape of Rome’s Social Bubbles

14:45-16:15: Session 6: Drawing the distinction between public and private space

Session chair: Heta Björklund

Guilhem Bartolotti (University Paris II Panthéon-Assas): Evergetism towards collegia in Roman imperial period: the particular case of pollicitationes

Eliza Gettel (Harvard University): Koina as nesting public spheres within the Roman empire

Darja Šterbenc Erker (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Augustus' appropriation of public and private spaces

Coffee break (30 mins)

16:45-17:45 Session 7: Spaces of exclusion and intersectionality

Session chair: Anna-Maria Wilskman

Josiah Osgood (Georgetown University): Terentia and the Bona Dea: Women's Space in the Roman Constitution

Lewis Webb (University of Gothenburg): Qui hic mos est in publicum procurrendi? Reconsidering female presence and visibility in public and sacred spaces in Republican Rome

Call for papers

From the fora to the assemblies and beyond, public space in ancient Rome was both political and contested, reflecting changing notions of community, citizenship and the values and norms behind them. The purpose of this conference is to explore the political, cultural and legal notions of public space and public realm in Rome. By observing the place of magistrates in the public spaces of Rome and more generally in the ideas behind Republican governance, it seeks to question and unpack the notions that have been built into the concept of Roman republican governance. On one hand we have the notion of Republicanism and public law, which has a rich history of modernizing interpretations and reuses in European history. On the other, there is the equally rich tradition of rituals, ceremonies, religious convictions and beliefs that surround the practices of governance. By examining the spacial aspect, how these were situated and interlinked and how public and private spaces and roles intermingled, we are hoping to shed new light into cultural and social dimension of Roman republicanism and its transformation from the Republic to the Principate. By setting ideas into their dynamic spatial, social and cultural contexts, we hope to subvert the traditional story of Roman constitutionalism.

Keynote speakers of the conference are Harriet Flower (Princeton), Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp (Cologne), Catherine Steel (Glasgow), and Clifford Ando (Chicago).

The organizers invite paper proposals for a number of central themes relating to the topic. The themes are:

- magistrates, assemblies and the transformation of the political spaces

- spaces of administration and memory

- religious institutions, collegia and the intermingling between the civic and religious spheres

- invisible borders and divisions in the public sphere

- the Republican domus, its connections with and role as a model of administrative space

- spaces of exclusion and intersectionality

- comparative studies on public space in the ancient world

- the reception of the Roman republicanist thought and practice

The abstract should be max. 400 words long and be accompanied by a short 1 page CV.

The conference is organized by the research project Law, Governance and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition (SpaceLaw,, funded by the European Research Council. 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.

The deadline for abstracts is January 25th, 2019. The proposals should be sent to