Entanglements of Migration & Religion in the Later Roman Empire
In contrast to earlier research, recent scholarship acknowledges the significance of migration and mobility and describes the ancient world as highly mobile. In the past two decades, a ‘tsunami’ of scholarly literature relating to migration in Antiquity in general and migration to Rome in particular has been produced. While the so called migration period is well researched, marginal attention has so far been paid to the migration flows within the slowly desintegrating Later Roman Empire. The role of religion, religious identities and particularly that of Christianity is in this context largely uncharted territory, alike the systematic study of movements to the city of Rome in the post-Constantinian era.
My aim is to chart migration flows and particularly the entaglements of religion and migration to the city of Rome in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. An importan first milestone on this road was the organisation of a workshop during the 17th Oxford Patristic Conference in 2019. The papers presented there were recently published in the rennowned journal Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum as a special issue.
During my visiting fellowship at the Department for Medieval Studies of the Central European University in 2021, I started working on a larger scale research program and begun to combine top-notch historical migration theories and recent developments on the field to study religion to a few emblematic and well researched topics. I continued working on the same topic during my both visiting fellowship at the Swedish Research Institute in Instanbul in 2022 and in 2023 supproted by the FWO. These efforst resulted in a series of presentations in Istanbul, Lund, New York, and Rome where I inter alia profiled the ‘arch-heretic’ Marcion as a migrant, or explored the impact of migrant experiences of the ‘Greek popes’ for their identity and especially their loyalty during their tenure in the 8th and 9th centuries.
Recently, I was awarded a prestigeous SNFS Swiss Postdoctoral Fellowship (replacement scheme for MSCA-IF), in which I proposed to prepare solid methodological framework for studying the entanglements of migration and religion in the Later Roman Empire. The project is entitled Minorities on the Move: Mapping Religious Migration in the Western Roman Empire. Thematically, it will shed genuinely new light on the migration flows of Jesus’ followers to Rome in the formative phase of Christianity before the reign of Constantine the Great (306–337 CE) and will explore three carefully designed pilot studies: The first is entitled as Heresiographic migrants and proposes to assess the value of heresiological writings for mapping migration. The second line is called Relational prosopography for reconstructing migrants networks’ and it aims to evaluate how relational prosopography and Social Network Analysis (SNA) can be used for identifying Christian migrants and migrant networks in the letter corpus Cyprian of Carthage († 258 CE). The third study explores the Place of origin as an ethnic argument, which is based on an extensive ethnographic argument by Tertullian against Marcion. These case studies aim to develop new approaches to study specific Christian sources for mapping entanglements of religion and migration in Antiquity.