Final Discussion - Dr. Nicola Terrenato
By Timothy Zoller
Over two days of the conference much was said and inferred about colonialism in the ancient world. Each scholar presenting each paper presented added so much to the overall event. After all of the presentations Nicola Terrenato had wrapped up the discussion by hitting on many of the points of the previous papers as points of further discussion. One of the closing points that Terrenato had proposed that was particularly fleshed out was his views on the topic of colonial typology. As all colonial historians have seen at one point in their studies, there are many instances and examples of this typology failing us in a way. In many instances it feels like some colonies of the ancient world (the ancient Greek world more specifically), do not fit into the set typology categories that are laid out for them. The current typology however does a good enough job to show off the differences and similarities between each colony for it to have persisted for this long. Terrenato had also commented on this point that “cultural terms harm the comparative perspective of colonization.” They are a nice starting point but the typology surrounding the study could most certainly benefit from a face-lift of sorts, a modernization of definitions that takes into account all of the developments that have been made by so many historians in the past decades. Some other historians in the conference had spoken up agreed and even expressed the sentiment that the typology is a bit outdated and there need to be some changes made to broaden our terminology.
Terrenato’s other major point was one that could be applied not just to the study of ancient colonization but to any aspect of history as a whole; he rightly suggested that colonialism should not be studied in isolation. The factors that had affected colonization are not always entirely internal ones of the state or governing body, but instead colonization involved all of the surrounding peoples and powers of the mediterranean and beyond. To properly understand colonialism, one must also understand the whole context of the era and area. Without this, historians could become in a way narrow minded and have tunnel vision for what they are studying. In a way it is foolish to even attempt studying colonialism if the individual has no context for the state of the world and what each other's power was doing at that time. Terrenato had even made some insightful points having to do with the effect of the study of colonialism on philosophy as well as the idea of urbanism running parallel to some colonies and not to others. With all of that said, it was a fantastic closing discussion to a fantastic conference. It gave many of us much to think about, not just in the context of colonialism and the conference but in many other fields of history and schools of thought as well.