Alex Cushing


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Bio and Research

Alex’s chief areas of scholarly interest are Roman social history and epigraphy, specifically inscriptions involving enslaved and freed persons, and the cultural and economic consequences of Roman manumission. He defended his dissertation in March 2020 on the effect, both coercive and mutually beneficial, that Roman patrons had on the economic and professional decisions of their freedpersons. This included a large-scale survey of all occupational inscriptions in Roman Italy. Three articles derived from his dissertation are forthcoming. Alex’s research interests continue to focus on the relationship between enslaved and freed. He has begun a project examining the motivations and ideological justifications of manumission in the Roman world. This project will combine a broad-ranging survey of expressions of elite and non-elite enslaver attitudes towards manumission and compare these to the views towards freedom expressed by those who had been and were enslaved. In this way, he will interrogate the differences and contradictions between the enslaver perspective, where manumission often justified with the language of compassion, gratuitousness, merit, and loyalty, and the enslaved perspective, which frequently made reference to long-term productive relationships and technical ability in order to emphasize the uniqueness and agency of the enslaved person being manumitted.