Macquarie Asian Historical Research Society Seminar

Date/Time:

  • 22/04/2012 – 6:00-7:00 PM

Agenda:

  • Presentation by Dr. HyunJin Kim (USYD DECRA Fellow) – The ‘Decline’ and ‘Fall’ of the Roman West from a Eurasian Perspective

 

Abstract:

The so-called ‘decline’ and ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire and the birth of a new kind of ‘Europe’ of the Early Middle Ages, has been the subject of intense curiosity and scholarly debate. Did the Western Roman Empire decline and fall? And if so, what was the nature of the new ‘Europe’ that emerged out of the ashes of that imperial ‘collapse’ in the mid 5th century AD? This paper seeks to introduce a slightly different perspective on the ‘fall’ of the Western Roman Empire. It argues that concentration on exclusively Greco-Roman historical sources have obscured one of the main causes behind the sudden dissolution of the Western Roman State. It argues that the Roman state was far from a moribund, decadent and ‘declining’ political entity. Rather the reasons behind Rome’s sudden inability to contain the ‘barbarians’ lie in the geopolitical revolution that took place in Inner Asia under the leadership of the Huns and other steppe peoples. The Empires of the steppe, of which the Hunnic Empire was a western periphery, were far from the political backwater that modern historians of the Ancient World have painted them to be. What the Huns and their Inner Asian subjects brought to Europe was a new political model and a proto-state level organisation that eventually triggered the rise of the new incipient proto-feudalism of the Early middle Ages. In short, the cataclysmic historical events of Late Antiquity were symptoms of the ‘Orientalization’ or rather Central Asianisation of European political culture that ironically gave birth to a distinctive Western European identity separated from the Mediterranean world of the former Roman Empire.

This paper is a summary of the new perspectives on the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire and the history of Hunnic Empire provided in the new, upcoming publication: The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe, Cambridge University Press.

 

Venue:

Room: W6A 107

 

 
 

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