Department of Greek & Latin


Citizenship in Classical Antiquity: current perspectives and challenges

International conference

The Department of Greek and Latin, University College London, in co-operation with the Department of Classical Philology, Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

1-3 July 2019
UCL Institute of Archaeology, G6 Lecture Theatre (31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY)

What did citizenship mean in the ancient world, why was it important, and why should it matter to us today? Citizenship has been defined as 'both a set of practices cultural, symbolic and economic) and a bundle of rights and duties (civil, political and social) that define an individual's membership in a polity' (Isin & Wood 1999, Citizenship & Identity), and has existed in various forms since antiquity, holding complex resonances up to the present day. Depending on the socio-political context, a person's citizenship may be a matter of territorial belonging or blood descent; it may offer privileged or exclusive access to resources or participation in communal decision-making; it may provide a sense of group belonging that can be productive and rewarding, but such identification may also be open to discursive redefinitions and manipulation, primarily in public political debate. Citizenship may be connected to certain civic values, though how these are realised in practice may not always be simple. There are those for whom a society's emphasis on citizenship may cause serious problems, such as stateless persons and migrants.

The immediacy of issues surrounding the concept and practice of citizenship in the modern world calls for a re-investigation of the notion in its ancient contexts. Topics of discussions include but are not limited to:

- similarities and differences across Greek, Roman, Near-Eastern, or broader Mediterranean ideas of citizenship;
- insiders' and outsiders' perspectives in considering what citizenship entails (emic vs etic);
- the semantics and varying definitions of 'citizen' and 'citizenship';
- the self-presentation of citizens as a privileged social group;
- citizenship, social change, and social conflict;
- citizenship and the control of resources;
- interactions between citizenship and other (group) identities;
- creating and exploiting citizen identities in discourse;
- the importance and limits of legal definitions;
- civic training and education;
- political participation and majoritarianism;
- the topicality or inapplicability of classical paradigms.

This three-day conference is intended to promote discussion among scholars across different disciplines working on the theme of citizenship in classical antiquity in any capacity. It will include keynote lectures by Prof. Clifford Ando (Chicago), Prof. John Davies FBA, FSA (Liverpool), Prof. Engin Isin (QMUL), Dr Catherine Neveu (CNRS-EHESS), and Prof. Josiah Ober (Stanford), and will also include a public discussion event on the evening of Tuesday 2nd July.

For any enquires related to the Conference, please email: Jakub Filonik (jakub.filonik@uj.edu.pl) or Christine Plastow (christine.plastow@open.ac.uk)

Citizenship Programme with Abstracts

Monday, 1 July
8:30-9:00  Registration (UCL Institute of Archaeology, Leventis Gallery)
9:00-9:15 Welcome address (UCL Institute of Archaeology, G6 lecture theatre)

Keynote speech (chair: Jakub Filonik)

Engin Isin (Queen Mary University of London)

Citizenship: ancient and modern


First citizens: Near Eastern ideas of citizenship (chair: John Davies)

Eva von Dassow (Minnesota), ‘Native sons, foreign rule, and political rights in ancient Near Eastern states’

Sean Manning (Innsbruck), ‘The service-citizenship nexus in Babylonia’

11:10-11:30Tea and coffee

How to define a ‘citizen’ (chair: Roger Brock)

Alain Duplouy (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), ‘Lifestyle, behaviours, habitus and schemata:
the other language of citizenship’

Roel Konijnendijk (Leiden), ‘The citizen as hoplite: a reappraisal’

Stefano Frullini (Cambridge), ‘The vocabulary of citizenship in fifth-century Greek historiography: a linguistic approach’


Lunch (at UCL Department of Greek and Latin, Gordon House, 29 Gordon Sq)


Becoming citizens 1: Procedures (chair: Christine Plastow)

Barbara Schipani & Ferdinando Ferraioli (Naples, ‘L’Orientale’), ‘Some considerations on the granting of citizenship to women in ancient Epirus’

Brenda Griffith-Williams (UCL), ‘Eispoiētoi and dēmopoiētoi: “making” sons and citizens in classical Athens’

James Kierstead (Wellington), ‘Incentives and information in Athenian citizenship procedures’


Tea and coffee


Becoming citizens 2: Backdoor routes (chair: Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz)

Fayah Haussker (Tel Aviv), ‘ΜΗΔΕΝΕΣ ΜΗΔΑΜΟΘΕΝ in classical Athens: smuggling infants, citizenship fraud and gender perspectives’

Sviatoslav Dmitriev (Ball State), ‘Citizenship for sale? Grants of politeia for money: a reappraisal’

Nick Fisher (Cardiff), ‘Citizenship anxieties: the Athenian diapsēphisis of 346/5’


Keynote speech (chair: Christine Plastow)

Catherine Neveu (IIAC (CNRS-EHESS), Paris)

Exploring citizenship(s) in context(s): anthropological perspectives

6:15-7:30Wine reception
Tuesday, 2 July
9:00-9:05Opening of day 2 of the conference

Keynote speech (chair: Chris Carey)

Clifford Ando (University of Chicago)

Census, censor, citizenship


Graeco-Roman intersections (chair: Mirko Canevaro)

Edward Harris (Durham & Edinburgh) & Sara Zanovello (Edinburgh), ‘Manumission and citizenship in ancient Greece and Rome, or Avarice grecque et générosité romaine revisited’

Andrea Raggi (Pisa), ‘The Greeks and Roman citizenship in the late Republic: a reappraisal’

Lucia Cecchet (Mainz), ‘Between honorific title, local membership and cosmopolitan identity: citizenship in the Greek east under Roman rule’


Tea and coffee


Citizenship and social status (chair: Alain Duplouy)

Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz (Tel Aviv), ‘Tracing status boundaries in the ancient polis’

Katarzyna Kostecka (Warsaw), ‘The mobility and status of travelling specialists in archaic Greece’

Christian Thomsen (Copenhagen), ‘The ideology of the ancient Greek metic (c. 400-31 BCE)’

1:20-2:10Lunch (at UCL Department of Greek and Latin, Gordon House, 29 Gordon Sq)

Citizen and city (chair: Roel Konijnendijk)

Eli Elad Aizikowitz (Oxford), ‘Citizenship in early Greece: the condition of urban life’

Chris Carey (UCL), ‘The citizen abroad: space, belonging and identity in the Greek polis’

Javier Martínez Jiménez (Cambridge), ‘Citizenship as urban identity in the post-Roman West’

3:40-4:00Tea and coffee

The centre-periphery dynamics (chair: Catherine Steel)

Myles Lavan (St Andrews), ‘Citizenship, city-state and empire: the doctrine of communis patria from Cicero to Caracalla’

Federico Russo (Milan), ‘Becoming Roman Citizen in a Provincial Community of the Empire: The problem of the ius adipiscendae civitatis Romanae per magistratum’

Martyna Świerk (Wrocław), ‘Epigraphy of Roman Carthage as a source of information about citizenship in African provinces’

6:00-8:00Public event, with wine reception (UCL, Gustave Tuck lecture theatre)

Conference dinner

Wednesday, 3 July

Opening of day 3 of the conference


Keynote speech (pre-recorded, chair: Roel Konijnendijk)

Josiah Ober (Stanford University)

Cleisthenes’ wager: the rationality of the ancient Athenian democracy


Civic honours (chair: Christian A. Thomsen

Roger Brock (Leeds), ‘Civic subdivisions, identity and social stability in the Greek polis’

Mirko Canevaro (Edinburgh), ‘Timē, Athenian citizenship and “falling short”’

Linda Rocchi (Edinburgh), ‘Identity, status, and “dishonour”: was atimia relevant only for citizens?’


Tea and coffee


Citizenship in court (chair: Brenda Griffith-Williams)

Christine Plastow (Open), ‘Places of citizenship in forensic rhetoric’

Janek Kucharski (Silesia), ‘Duty to despise: anger and hatred as civic obligation in the Athenian forensic discourse’

Brad Cook (Mississippi), ‘The suppositious citizen & the “birther” attack in ancient Athens: Demosthenes vs. Aeschines’


Lunch (at UCL Department of Greek and Latin, Gordon House, 29 Gordon Sq)


Citizenship as metaphor (chair: Myles Lavan)

Julien Perrez (Liège), ‘Conceptual metaphors in political discourse: evidence from citizen discourse’

Olivia Elder (Cambridge), ‘Citizens of the wor(l)d: language, citizenship and metaphor in Roman discourse of identity’

Sam Beckelhymer (UCLA), ‘Citizens of Latin and the res Latina’


Tea and coffee


The extent of politeia and res publica (chair: Clifford Ando)

Benjamin Gray (Birkbeck), ‘Debating the scope of citizenship and political life in the Greek cities under Rome’

Catherine Steel (Glasgow), ‘Citizenship and political change at Rome, 91-49 B.C.’

Arnaud Besson (Yale), ‘Cassius Dio: universalization of Roman citizenship and law of succession’


Keynote speech (chair: Chris Carey)

John Davies FBA, FSA (University of Liverpool)

Is modern scholarship asking the right questions about ancient citizenship systems?


Closing remarks

Organisers: Chris Carey (UCL), Jakub Filonik (JU), Christine Plastow (OU) and Roel Konijnendijk (Leiden), assisted by Brenda Griffith-Williams (UCL) and Joanna Janik (JU)