Localism and the Ancient Greek City-State

Localism and the Ancient Greek City-State

Hans Beck

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226711348

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Ancient Greece was a connected world. This book turns to the flipside of omnipresent connectivity. It argues that the local had a pervasive influence on the communal experience in Greece. The investigation begins with a conceptual introduction that situates the study of Greek localism and the local in the context of ongoing scholarly and public conversations about globalization. The book then examines how Greek cities were subject to the dynamics of appropriating the land around them, charging place with narratives of meaning (Chapter Two). Subsequently, the study turns to the local as a cultural currency. The human sense of place is driven by sensory recognition and interpretative choices; both are subject to the reins of culture. In the third chapter, this cultural encoding is traced in the discussion of communal excitement: from the sensation of local taste and food traditions to pride in local skillsets and to excitement of athletic spectacles and public performances. Chapter Four demonstrates how the excitement of place was magnified by the fact that the land was inhabited by humans and gods alike. It is argued that the grounding of Greek religion in place marks one of the landmark principles in the repertoire of locally enshrined values and meanings. The final section examines the intricate question of how the conduct of politics was governed by ideas of the local (Chapter Five). The author demonstrates that polis societies were susceptive to and geared toward a genuinely local reading of the world.