The motif of barbarians invading from the endless wastes of the north is an ancient motif in the historical traditions of Mediterranean, Near Eastern, and East Asian civilizations. This becomes particularly clear in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, when the Eurasian and East African landmasses were tenuously, but genuinely, connected in a form of archaic globalization. The parallels exist on two levels: first, the ancient sources from each of the main cultural zones constructed their barbarian neighbors in sometimes remarkably similar ways. More importantly, though, as early modern Europe expanded into the rest of the world, the Classical Mediterranean tropes of northern barbarism were read into the histories of the Near East, Central and South Asia, and East Asia by emerging European traditions of scholarship. The talk will trace these interlocking themes and discuss what they mean for our ability to talk about global history before the modern era.
Michael Kulikowski is currently the Head of the Department of History at Pennsylvania State University, and formerly taught at Smith College and University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He earned his PhD in 1998 from the University of Toronto. He is the author of Late Roman Spain and Its Cities (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), Rome’s Gothic Wars from the Third Century to Alaric (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and co-editor (with Kim Bowes) of Hispania in Late Antiquity: Current Perspectives (Brill Academic Publishers, 2005).
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This event is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment).
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611