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Making the Middle Republic: Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Taking two artworks in the MFA Collection as a point of departure, this talk will recreate the turbulent world of the ancient Mediterranean in the decades of the early Roman expansion: the heyday of the Roman Middle Republic, which, from its beginnings as a city-state in central Italy moved rapidly to exert control first over the Italian Peninsula and then over other rival expansionist empires such as Carthage in North Africa. Why and how did this expansion occur? What are our main bodies of evidence for analyzing its progression and outcomes? And how do traditional explanations, based mainly on literary sources, stack up against more recent interpretations (which draw on fields ranging from archaeobotany to palaeoclimatology)?

During the fourth and third centuries BCE, Roman expansion into Italy reshaped the peninsula’s Archaic societies and prompted new political relationships, economic practices, and sociocultural structures. Rural landscapes and urban spaces throughout Latium saw intensified use amidst novel principles of land management, animal husbandry, and architectural design. Join scholar and author Dan-el Padilla Peralta as he offers fresh perspectives on these transformations by embracing a wide range of approaches to the historical and contemporary implications of the discipline of Classics. 

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is Associate Professor of Classics and associated faculty in African American Studies and affiliated faculty in the Programs of Latino Studies and Latin American Studies at Princeton University. He researches and teaches the histories of the Roman Republic and Empire, global histories of slavery and citizenship, classical reception in the colonial and postcolonial Caribbean, and critical race theory’s contribution to the study of classics and classicism. He is the author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin 2015) and Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic (Princeton 2020); and he has co-edited Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation (Cambridge 2017) and Making the Middle Republic: New Approaches to Rome and Italy, c. 400 – 200 BCE (Cambridge 2023). He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Classicism and Other Phobias, the subject of his 2022 W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard. He is a volume co-editor for The Cambridge History of the African Diaspora and sits on the board of the RaceB4Race collective. With Sasha-Mae Eccleston, he co-founded Racing the Classics.

Making the Middle Republic
Dan-el Padilla Peralta
Thursday, March 21, 2024
6:00 pm–7:00 pm
Marly Room
Free for MFA Members; $15 Not-yet Members

MFA Members enjoy free admission for an entire year, early access to special exhibitions, discounts at the MFA Shop and Café Clementine, special member-only exclusive events, and more.



Event Details

March 21

6–7 pm

Museum of Fine Arts – Marly Room

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