The EX-PATRIA project

The project EX-PATRIA. Conflicts, Contacts, and Circulation between Rome and Iran in Late Antiquity is led by Ekaterina NECHAEVA, Junior Professor at the University of Lille, HUB Société(s). 

The project studies interactions (religious, cultural, educational, artistic, economic, political, etc.) between groups, communities, and individuals across the borders of the Roman and Persian Empires. It examines migration and mobility across the border and their roles in the processes of formation of horizontal social networks — within the states’ limits as well as across their borders. The research also analyses the mechanisms by which these flexible formations interacted with the more rigid structural power of states and their institutions: political, military, diplomatic, legal, or religious. 

Among the study’s goals is to analyze the impact that cross-border migration, circulation, communication, and conflicts could have on members of the involved groups and communities. How these interactions determined components of group and individual identities; how they affected their loyalties; how they generated further conflicts or promoted internal cohesion within the communities. 

With its emphasis on the interconnectivity of the Late Antique world, the EX-PATRIA Project aims to generate more knowledge and contribute to a better understanding of the shared cultures of global Late Antiquity. 

EX-PATRIA project relies on an innovative interdisciplinary methodology comprising network and spatial analysis of prosopography and case studies.

The EX-PATRIA project also integrates and continues the work on dissent-driven emigration out of the Late Roman Empire (previously funded by the I-SITE ULNE).

Highly diverse, the Late Antique world was well-connected through intense mobility of different kinds: population migrations, group movements, and individual displacements.

Both original sources and modern historiography have been predominantly focused on massive migrations into the Roman Empire and on the range of crises attributed to these movements. However, the Roman Empire was not only a place of immigration but also that of emigration. The Sasanian Persian Empire frequently received Roman deserters and fugitives. Groups and enclaves of ‘barbarians’ could act as receiving societies that accepted migrants from the powerful Roman state.

EX-PATRIA shifts the traditional focus from incoming to outgoing mobility aiming to scrutinise the phenomenon of the “against-the-stream” movement and the reasons behind it. Preliminary research reveals that a considerable part of such outgoing mobility was fostered by different types of dissent and internal conflicts in various parts of the Late Antique world. The project assesses the spectre of different types of conflicts (religious, military, political) at the origin of individual, group, or collective departures.

The study shows how the types of dissent varied throughout different social strata and different territories of the Roman Empire, revealing comparative characteristics of sending societies, and establishes the peculiarities of individual experiences of dissent and migration, the specificity of the structural responses to the acts of leaving (connected to the problem of citizenship and loyalty), and of the public attitudes to emigration (ranging from associating outgoing with treason to expressing positive ideas about cosmopolitanism).