Consuming like a Roman? Colonial Consumption at Ancient Lattara, France – Ben Luley (University of Chicago)

Within anthropology, the subject of consumption has been an important focus for understanding modern society, and has also been used more recently in more ancient examples as well.  In this presentation I suggest that an approach focusing on the consumption of the material world can offer invaluable insights into the processes of Roman colonialism.  Specifically, by focusing on the selective incorporation of certain objects into the daily routines and practices of people living in the region of southern Gaul that became Gallia Narbonensis, we can better understand and appreciate the effects of colonialism upon the daily lives of ordinary people and their reactions to living under a regime that was radically different from that of their ancestors.  In this case, “consumption” does not refer simply to the end result of production and distribution, but rather an agentive social process through which cultural and social identities are created and reshaped through the selective appropriation and use of material objects.  By looking at how objects were incorporated into the daily lives of people living at the site of ancient Lattara in southern France, I argue that the ceramic evidence indicates a limited interest Roman culture and practices at the basic level of cooking and food preparation in the different households of the site.  Instead, individuals at Lattara appear to have continued to select traditional vessels for cooking, despite important changes in the actual production of ceramic wares in Gallia Narbonensis.

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