Identity and stigmatization. The case of the Roman freedman. A qualitative analysis of the socialization and stratification of and the interaction between freed and freeborn Romans

Start - End 
2012 - 2016 (completed)
Department of History
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 



Slavery continues to be a popular and fruitful research topic in Classical Studies. Almost every period in history has known its own variety, yet for over two centuries Roman slavery has been the standard by which scholars and intellectuals measured and compared all other forms of slavery. Much less attention, however, has been paid to a group in Roman society that was inextricably linked to the slave population: freed slaves (libertini). This project aims to fill this lacuna in historical research by applying a wide array of sociological theories concerning identity formation, socialization and stigmatization to the specific case of the Roman freedman. The objective is to find out which processes determined the interaction between the Roman elite (patrons, aristocrats) and freeborn ‘commoners’ (ingenui) on the one hand, and the ambivalent class of freedmen on the other. More specifically I intend to focus on the discrimination mechanisms that both defined and excluded the freedman class. Freedmen bore the stain of slavery for life. If we want to understand their role in Roman society, we need to understand the processes of identification and stigmatization that shaped their social identity. By focusing on the freedman who up till now has not yet received due attention in historical studies of emotion and mentality, by using unique literary sources to do so and by linking these sources to the vast sociological literature on stigmatization and identity, this study will prove an original and valuable contribution to academic knowledge.



Phd Student(s)