Urban Identity and Citizenship in the West between the Fifth and Seventh Centuries
The presentation of the self in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages has traditionally been defined in terms of an ethnic dichotomy between Roman and Barbarian. In parallel discourses, the studies on the evolution of citizenship have focused on the transformation of Roman citizenship after the Constitutio Antoniniana, without much focus on the role of citizenship as a marker of identity. In this paper the possibility of using urban identity (as defined by anthropologists and sociologists) as a valid form of self- and community definition will be put forward, using citizenship and civic involvement as proxy indicators for urban identity. The resilience of urban communities and civic ideas, together with the inclusive nature of place-based identities serve to further underline the saliency of locality in post-Roman contexts. Elements of the post-Roman city life such as continuing municipal administration, new constructions and the cult of martyrs created a city-focused communal cognitive map. Similarly, the competition with other cities in diplomacy and constructions, together with the constant interaction between the state and the civitates socially validated citizenship and urban identities as forms of representing the self and the community.