Thursday, 18 October 2012

Call for Papers: Public and Private in the Roman House and Society

April 18-20, 2013 University of Helsinki

Abstract deadline: December 15, 2012


Ancient Roman houses were designed to suit both the private life of its occupants and the demands of public life. As a result, the division between public and private spaces inside the domus was a complicated topic even for the Romans themselves. Previous scholarship has tended to treat the domus in terms of a rigid division between public and private, with the same division acting as a gender marker for (male) political activities and (female) domestic activities respectively. This strict division within the household now seems outdated. The aim of this conference, then, is to take a fresh look at notions of public and private within the domus by exploring the public and private spheres of the Roman house from the first century BCE to the third century CE. The Public and Private in the Roman House is an ongoing project organizing its second major event, building on the success of a workshop at NYU this October. Keynote speakers include Filippo Coarelli, Margareta Steinby and Paul Zanker.

We therefore invite papers that explore the complex relationship between public and private in Roman society from a variety of perspectives – historical, archaeological, philological, architectural and anthropological – in order to further the understanding of the domus as a place for social, cultural, political and administrative action.

Potential themes include but are not limited to:
  • The house and the city: Political and administrative spaces
  • The Roman house as political, religious, social and cultural arena
  • Newest theories and methods in the study of privacy/public in the Roman House
  • Public and private in material culture and artefact studies
  • The provincial house: Local and Roman building traditions and usages
  • Changes and Continuities of the Roman house in Late Antiquity
  • Gender in domestic space

The conference is organized by the project Public and Private in the Roman House (, which seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate on privacy in the ancient world as well as the issues of how the limits between public and private spaces were drawn. In an attempt to gain new perspectives on these questions, the project seeks to utilize comparative anthropological theories concerning the conceptualization of the public/private interface.

Please submit your abstract (300 words) as a [word/pdf] file to Juhana Heikonen at Please include your name, academic affiliation and address in your email.
The deadline for submission of abstracts is December 15, 2012

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