The research project “Celebrations of the Empire from the provinces” (2022-2025), financed by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación and led by professors Elena Muñiz Grijalvo and Rocío Gordillo Hervás at the University Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla (Spain), offers one fully-funded four-year PhD position.

Information about the application process may be found at:

The deadline for the application is 26 January 2023.

Project abstract: The aim of this project is to analyse the intervention of rites in the cities of the Roman Empire (with special attention to processions and agonistic rituals in the 1st-3rd centuries AD) in the configuration of the idea of empire. The project is based on two complementary hypotheses: on the one hand, that rites possess performative capacity, that is, they are not mere reflections of reality, but contribute to creating it; on the other hand, that the rites that were common to the whole Empire were put into practice in a locally differentiated way, and that the local versions intervened in the creation of a discourse on the Empire, giving it the form of a true political and religious community.

In the case of the processions and agones which constitute the ritual domain of this project, these were practices common to the whole Empire, implying the existence of a shared ritual terrain; but at the same time they were articulated in a myriad of local versions which gave a truly ecumenical dimension to the very idea of empire. The concept of empire carried thus within it the extraordinary variety of traditions that made it up, including divergence from or opposition to empire. The practice of processions and agones, two extraordinarily relevant faces of civic piety, required the conjunction of all the vectors of civic life, and will therefore serve to explore the intervention of local dynamics in the formalisation of imperial categories.

The analysis of the civic perspective of imperial rites and their intervention in the construction of an imperial identity is integrated into the new trends about the imperial dynamics and the interconnectivity of cities in the Mediterranean. The study of the local varieties of ritual practices that were common to the whole Empire is intended to constitute a novel perspective in this line, providing a systematic study of the data that will make it possible to incorporate the ritual dimension into the enquiry of the construction of the imperial structure and identity.