Appel à communication — “Work, labor and professions in the Roman World”

SECOND CALL FOR CHAPTERS : Work, labor and professions in the Roman World

Call for chapters & conference (Ghent May 30th – June 1st, 2013)

For more information please see our website

Labor is one of the three classic production factors, next to land and capital. Human resources are vital for economic development – as much and more than natural resources. According to Adam Smith the division of labor is the primary key to efficiency gains because division stimulates specialization. If so, there is good reason to think that the Roman economy was (by pre-industrial standards) highly developed since literary, documentary (inscriptions, papyri) and archaeological data all indicate high levels of specialization and labor division.
Yet division of labor is inextricably bound up with how production is organized, which in turn is influenced by social, political, legal, and ideological conditions. Labor – or the lack of it – is an important factor of social identity formation and appraisal in many cultures, including Greco-Roman. Professions have the potential to divide people, but also to bind them in ties of solidarity that transcend material necessity. In short, labor is a key factor in how society and culture interrelate with economics.
In this volume we wish to bring together and confront the most recent insights, ideas and interpretations on the role of human resources in the Roman economy; their availability, quality, reliability, efficiency and so forth. We wish to do so, moreover, in an explicit dialogue with social and economic historians specialized in other periods and/or cultures.
The objective is to produce a coherent and innovative study of labor in the Roman world. We aim at about 20 chapters of ca. 6000 words. Roughly half of the chapters will be written by invited authors who will each be asked to focus on a particular aspect touching on their expertise. Keynote authors are Walter Scheidel, George Grantham, Sheilagh Ogilvie, Catharina Lis, Jinyu Liu, Cameron Hawkins and Kyle Harper. Home authors will be Koen Verboven, Arjan Zuiderhoek and Christian Laes and Peter Van Nuffelen.
For the remaining chapters we launch this open call. We explicitly encourage scholars of Late Antiquity to send proposals as we hope to integrate changing perceptions and modes of organization of labor until 600 CE.

Authors who wish to contribute a chapter should send a chapter outline of ca. 1000 words, clearly stating their topic, research hypotheses, objectives and methods to Koen.Verboven@ugent.be or Paul.Erdkamp@vub.ac.be. Chapter outlines have to reach us before May 1st, 2012. A first draft (or working paper) is expected by 1st May 2013. Authors are invited to present and discuss their draft at a conference in Ghent, 30th May – 1st June, 2013.

This monograph and conference are part of the six year research program on “Factors of Production in the Roman World” of the Roman Society Research Center, which is covered also (since 1st Jan. 2012) by the international research network “Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World” (2012-2016). It follows up on the international conference on “Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World” which was held in Brussels in May 2011 and formed the basis for a collaborative monograph currently under preparation for publication by Oxford U.P. It will be followed by a third on “Capital and investments in the Roman World” (2013-2015).


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