Creolizing the Roman Provinces

Webster, Jane. 2001. “Creolizing the Roman Provinces.” American Journal of Archaeology 105:209-25.

Presenter: Morgan Fitzgerald

Mal Pigmon;
Abby Rosensen;
Whitney Tyrkala;
Morgan Williams

8 thoughts on “Creolizing the Roman Provinces

  1. I’ll kick this off with four quetions, answer as many as you wish:
    What is Webster’s argument? What sorts of evidence does she use to support her claims? What do you think about the conclusion she reached? What sorts of situations would her proposed framework best be applied to?

    • This article was interesting to me when compared to the other types of articles we have read for class. I believe this is the first article which, rather than proposing new conclusions about how various artifacts should be interpreted, proposes a new conclusion regarding HOW we should make conclusions about the interpretations of various artifacts. I generally really like this type of analysis because it can be as beneficial as (and sometimes more beneficial than) the facts themselves in any given field. With that said, the types of evidence employed here were very different from the types we’ve seen already. It seemed like a huge portion of the evidence here came from case studies which had very little, if anything at all, to do with Rome or Romanization. I think this was appropriate because the author was attempting to defend a research style, as opposed to specific research itself. Still, Webster does refer to the relationship between Rome and the Gauls for a fairly significant portion of the paper, so we were also able to see how her suggested method of analysis could be effectively used. I think this was a great mix because it allowed readers to see how the concept of “creolization” is appropriate in non-Roman contexts, which then reinforces the idea that it might be appropriate in Roman contexts as well.

      I thought the conclusion made a lot of sense, but I am hesitant to accept it completely, just because I am worried that the area to which the author applies her conclusion is very vast. I am clearly not an expert on all Roman provinces, but I am not quite sure whether or not I should be willing to accept the concept as valid for all provinces. In all fairness though, I definitely don’t think that “Romanization” would necessarily be more appropriate for all cases. If her conclusion merely suggests that we should be more willing to consider the idea of “creolization” than “Romanization,” then I would have to agree. I would just say that the creolization probably had varying levels in each situation.

      This framework can certainly be applied at least somewhat to any situation in which Rome meshes with another civilization or culture. While it may not be a rule, it should definitely be a consideration. However, while the article focuses on creolizing with Rome, I would be willing to argue that this concept can, and maybe should, be applied to just about any study concerning the coming together of ANY two cultures. I think it’s probably extremely rare for one culture to dominate and wipe out all traces of a previous culture. It is much more likely that there is some mixing in the new culture, regardless of how small the extent.

      • I agree with you in being hesitant in accepting it for all provinces, however, I think it is a strong alternate framework to Romanization for at least a good number of the provinces. While Romanization is useful for some situation, so is Webster’s Creolization in my opinion. It certainly leaves more room for flexibility when dealing with cultural exchange.

        I also think your larger point is well made, we should at least be open to the idea of cultural exchange when two people groups interact on this level.

        What did you think of her argument, were all parts necessary or was something big missing in your opinion?

        • Maybe this was just me, but the argument was extremely long. This was beneficial in some ways because it allowed me to REALLY know that the author was arguing by the end of the piece (I’ve had trouble with that in other articles where the thesis is not explicitly stated several times, or even once for that matter). However, I think maybe some of the examples were a bit drawn out. I feel like this paper could have been practically half the length it was. It was useful to use examples from Gaul and from the Americas, but the portions on creolizing in the Americas seemed too long to me, especially given that, aside from serving as example of a similar situation, they really had very little to do with Rome at all (at least not directly).

          I feel like my answer to whether or not something was missing should be “yes,” but I am not sure what exactly was missing. Perhaps it would have made the argument stronger to acknowledge situations in which Romanization did work to some level, but creolizing is a more appropriate term (although I guess this is kind of what the Gaul examples did, since she acknowledged how elites were Romanized somewhat whereas lower classes really were not.) I guess I’m not quite sure what’s missing! Is there a correct answer as to what’s missing?

          • Not in my mind! I think you can draw whatever interpretation you like, I was mainly asking due to the fact that I’ve read this article several times now and wanted to see what someone with fresh eyes thought.

      • I found the article extremely interesting. I was very confused in the beginning, when she uses the term creolization; also the length of the article was daunting. Luckily, the abstract set the article up well. I agree with a lot of things she had to say, I don’t think we can always use the term Romanization to describe the “Roman takeover”. Not all aspects of a society is lost when another powerful civilization takes over. The Etruscans themselves kept many of their cultural rituals and beliefs once the Romans had power. In most cases, the Romans hardly interfered. In most cases “Romanization” was a process that took place over a long period of time. In conclusion, the article was long and very different from what we have read, but no less interesting! I kind of agree with her.

  2. Webster arguement is that the term and process Romanization is outdated and wrong. Basically it should not be used. Instead he said that a new frame work needs to be used which is creolization. A liguistic term from the Carribean and American history which means the blending of two languages. Webster argues that instead of thinking of societies that emerged roman provices as romanized instead think of them as creolized.

    • This is a nice summary of the basic premise of the article, however, I am curious about your opinion regarding the argument. Did you think it was well made and applicable, should it be disregarded entirely, or something in-between?

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