CANCELLED 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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The University is closely monitoring national and international developments in relation to COVID-19 and taking actions as appropriate. As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel or postpone all University led public events until the end of April 2020. Thereafter, events will remain under review.

The health and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors is our highest priority and while we realise that the cancellation of events will cause some inconvenience and disappointment, this temporary measure is aimed at ensuring that our response to the current situation remains responsible and informed by the latest public health advice and expertise.

We regret that the University cannot be held liable for any loss or damage, including but not limited to travel and accommodation costs, arising from this event cancellation.


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.