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Posts Tagged ‘Later Roman Empire’

I should say from the beginning that this is not the sort of defence of Arron Banks that’s likely to carry much weight with any hypothetical future popular tribunal considering charges of willful destruction of the prosperity and well-being of the British people. Further, my immediate reaction to his original “True the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration” tweet was a typical kneejerk academic one – something along the lines of “yes, why don’t we revive Tenney Frank’s ‘Race Mixture in the Roman Empire’ while we’re at it?” – followed by an attempt at getting #BanksHistory trending on Twitter, and I don’t think that was entirely wrong. At the same time, there is something about the way that the battlelines in Banks versus Beard ended up being neatly drawn between ‘ignorant right-wing billionaire combining memories of schoolboy history and Gladiator with current ideological prejudices’ and ‘heroic authoritative Professor just fighting for Truth’ that makes me feel a little uncomfortable.* (more…)

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I’ve been contemplating possible historical analogies for the role of Head of Department (or Head of Subject or Subject Lead, the titles now in use in my own faculty) in a context where all the control of financial matters, and a lot of control of everything else, resides at a higher level of the organisation. The position is temporary, a matter of a couple of years (even fewer, if I can provoke my colleagues into launching a coup), rather than permanent; it is supposedly meritocratic, but more likely depends on a mixture of seniority, status and vulnerability to moral pressure (there may be people who really want this sort of job, but mostly it appears to get assigned to those who accept that they have some sort of duty and/or haven’t come up with a good enough excuse to avoid it). More or less no power that I’ve been able to identify, but not purely ceremonial; on the contrary, a fair amount of responsibility: to represent the department to higher authority, to defend it against wacky schemes and exciting initiatives, and at the same time to try to cajole colleagues into obeying the dictats that can’t simply be ignored, sometimes trying to translate them into a language that’s more acceptable or accessible to academics… (more…)

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