Freedom, Empire and Slavery

Discipline: Political Theory
Instructor: Balfour
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1640
End: 1755
Field Work: Day 3 - Civitavecchia - Friday, 26 July | Italy
Prerequisites: One course in political theory, philosophy, or literary theory. Download Syllabus

This advanced seminar in political theory will approach the question of freedom by considering
its intimate relationship to forms of un-freedom. We will ask how democratic and republican
societies have understood the liberty of citizens in relation to the domination or exploitation of
colonial subjects and slaves. Traversing the ancient and modern Mediterranean world, our texts
may include the work of Thucydides, Montaigne, Las Casas, Tocqueville, and Fanon.

Field Work

Country: Italy
Day: 3 - Civitavecchia - Friday, 26 July

July 26 (Civitavecchia, Italy) This field lab will consist of a walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. We will visit the Jewish Museum and Synagogue as well as the ancient ruins of the Portico d’Ottavia and the Ponte Fabricio . In a compressed space, we will have a chance to consider the history of Jews in Rome, from their arrival as envoys and slaves in ancient times, through the enclosure of the ghetto in the 16th century and emancipation in 1870, through fascism in the 20th century, to the present. We will also reflect on the relationship between confinement and freedom through our tour of the neighborhood. Academic Objectives:

  1. Think comparatively about empire and/or slavery in ancient and modern contexts. What are the key similarities and differences?
  2. Examine the relationship between architecture and freedom (or unfreedom).
  3. Consider how history of Roman Jews relates to one or more of the readings for the course.