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Assistant Professor of History:
Phone: +1 401 863 5121
Jonathan Conant studies late ancient and early medieval history. His research focuses on the inter-regional integration of the Mediterranean, and he has a special interest in questions of identity, empire, interfaith interaction, sanctity, slavery, and documentary culture. His first book examines the fate of Romanness in North Africa between the Vandal and Islamic conquests (c. 439-700); his current work concerns the Carolingian Empire.
Jonathan P. Conant's research focuses on the inter-regional integration of the Mediterranean and the transition from antiquity to the middle ages. His book, Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700 (Cambridge University Press, in production), represents the first historical examination of the fate of Roman identity in the region of modern Tunisia and Algeria after the collapse there of Roman power in the fifth century down to the Islamic invasions of the late seventh and early eighth centuries. He has also written shorter pieces on saints' cults, rural literacy, documentary practice, and on the North African Jewish community. His current project, tentatively entitled The Carolingians and the Ends of Empire, ca. 751-888, seeks to reassess the Carolingians' understanding of the aims and responsibilities of empire in light of their wide-reaching external relations and of the long-term survival of Roman ideas in the medieval West.
In his research, Jonathan Conant explores the inter-regional integration of the late ancient and early medieval Mediterranean. Most recently, his research has examined the cultural, social, and political connections between North Africa and the rest of the early medieval world. His book, Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in North Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700 (Cambridge University Press, in production), represents the first historical examination of the fate of Roman identity in the region of modern Tunisia and Algeria after the collapse there of Roman power, from the Germanic Vandals' capture of the territory in the early fifth century, through the sixth-century Byzantine reconquest, down to the Islamic invasions of the Maghrib in the late seventh and early eighth centuries. Though most studies of the early Middle Ages focus on the creation of new, non-Roman identities out of the encounter between "barbarians" and provincial Romans, Conant argues that the idea of being Roman never really ceased to be fundamental among key elements of early medieval society, both in Africa and beyond, even after direct imperial control of the West had long since collapsed. However, he contends that what it meant to be Roman in the early Middle Ages was constantly changing; and in Africa specifically, the Vandal conquest precipitated the emergence of three competing definitions of Romanness political, cultural, and religious all of which remained operational into the early Islamic era and beyond.
Conant's second book project focuses on Carolingian external relations and how these illuminate the Frankish rulers' understanding and exercise of empire. Conant has also authored shorter pieces on the diffusion of North African saints' cults in the early medieval Mediterranean; on lay literacy and documentary practice in late Roman and early medieval North Africa; and on the Vandal-era North African Jewish community.
Andrew Heiskell Post-Doctoral Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome, 2009-2010
Junior Fellowship in Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 2002-2003
Packard Fellowship, Harvard University, 2001-2002
Graduate Seminar in Numismatics, American Numismatic Society, New York, summer 1999
Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, 1997-2001
American Historical Association
Medieval Academy of America
American Academy in Rome
Jonathan Conant's teaching focuses on the fall of the Roman Empire, the early medieval Mediterranean world, late antique North Africa, the empire of Charlemagne, and the Vikings.