Parapolitical Agency in the Roman Economy

Ghent, Friday 14th Dec. 2012

Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (KANTL)

Koningstraat 18, 9000 Gent   

Organisers Arjan Zuiderhoek & Koen Verboven

The central question of the workshop is: How did private interest groups use the state to defend their economic interests and what was the overall effect of this on economic development? ‘Parapolitical agency’ can be interpreted very broadly, and may encompass such diverse groups as societates of publicani, faeneratores, collegia, tenants petitioning the emperor, cities/civic elites, temples, the Church, and so forth (the list is by no means exhaustive). One may also think of state officials (including imperial freedmen) and members of imperial and provincial elites using (their links to) state power to further their own interests. Still other avenues of research can no doubt be found. Ultimately, of course, the goal should be to determine what the effects of such behaviour were on economic development. Could the state, its officials and institutions successfully be co-opted by private parties in ways that reduced transaction costs and increased the overall efficiency of economic processes, or did parapolitical agency mostly encourage rent seeking and predation, thus compromising societal well-being and undermining economic performance?


9:45 Workshop opening

10:00 Taco Terpstra, The Use of Roman Power by Greek Elites: A Comparison with British India

11:00 Coffee

11:30 Peter Bang, Predation and rent-seeking: The Roman Empire and the ‘natural’ state of North, Wallis and Weingast

12:30 Lunch

14:00 Elio LoCascio, Para-political agency in late Roman taxation

15:00 Wim Broekaert and Arjan Zuiderhoek, Public funds, private capital: sources of credit in the urban economy

Attendance is free.

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