Gender Formation in the Formation of Empire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper seeks to assess the processes of gender formation in relation to the developing imperial formation of the Augustan period. Both ‘gender’ and ‘imperialism’ are problematic conceptions and although the links between the two have often been observed, the dynamics of that connection require elucidation. The problem centres on how gender roles propagated by an imperial regime become hegemonic. I suggest that there were similarities in form (isomorphs) between the discourses of family and gender and imperial monarchy. Isomorphic discourses tend to mutually reinforce in establishing shared epistemes. Social agents who pursue contingent benefits through adherence to one discourse find their position supported by isomorphic similarities in seemingly unrelated discursive formations and are subsequently drawn into adherence to the secondary discourse. Discursive formations thus tend to accrete to isomorphic formations. Such accretions pervade imperial structures. As a consequence, access to social benefits and effective operation within social formations become reliant upon adherence to an imperial episteme. Rather than operate within a paradigm of rational choice in acculturation to the imperial polis, this model suggests that gender formation emerged through the power relations in local social formations that tied directly to the imperial system through this process of accretion. In so doing, I propose a model for Romanization (and gender formation) that allows both for similarities and differences with later imperial formations and for micro-level acculturations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGendering Roman Imperialism
EditorsHannah Cornwall, Greg Woolf
Place of PublicationLeiden & Boston
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789004524774
ISBN (Print)9789004524767
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2022

Publication series

NameImpact of Empre
ISSN (Print)1572-0500


  • Gender
  • Roman Empire
  • Livia
  • colonialism

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