Christian Appropriation and Recontextualisation of the Amphitheatre at Carthage (Sarah Parkhouse, Australian Catholic University)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 19th March 2020 / Venue: Seminar Room 6, Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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This paper will examine in what ways the Carthaginian amphitheatre was recontextualised and appropriated through the practice of early Christian martyrdom, and employ Henri Lefebvre’s work on social space to consider how the place and space of the amphitheatre created and shaped experience.

The paper will look at both text and place, primarily the third-century Christian writings of Tertullian and the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas alongside architectural and material evidence from Carthage. For Lefebvre, space is not considered as an a priori or ontological entity, but as actively produced and in a state of flux. In third-century Carthage, the space of the amphitheatre expressed a conflict between notions of imperial power, demonic space and sacred space. Tertullian calls the amphitheatre the home of all the demons and admonishes Christians from visiting it. Perpetua, Felicitas and their companions are killed there for being Christians, recontextualising it as sacred space for their experience.

Whereas scholarship on the lived experience of martyrdom has focused predominantly on the body as a site of experience; here I turn the focus on the place as a site of power dynamics.

This event is part of the Work in Progress Seminar Series.