Dr EA Hemelrijk (b. 1953) has been appointed professor of Ancient History in the Faculty of Humanities at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). For this position, Emily Hemelrijk will conduct research in the coming years on her NWO Vidi project Hidden lives – public personae: Women in the urban texture of the Roman Empire. This research project focuses on women’s roles in the social and public life of the many Roman cities in Italy and the western provinces of the Roman Empire during the first three centuries of imperial reign. This research aims to shed light on a group of women from the local city elites and sub-elite groups who until now have received little scholarly attention.
Even though in the Roman world city magistrate positions and membership on the city council were reserved for men, the countless public statues and inscriptions dedicated to Roman women reveal that they played an important role in the social and public life of these cities. As priestesses, city patronesses, or benefactresses, some women were of such service to their cities that the city councils honoured them with public statues and inscriptions. In addition, some women (or groups of women) erected public statues with accompanying inscriptions bearing not only the name of the person honoured, but their own names as well.
The commonalities between inscriptions, public statues, and other monuments erected by and for women in cities in Italy and the western provinces will be studied with the intent of determining what the public personae of these women and their participation in city ‘networks’ and organizations were like. With this research, Hemelrijk aims to make a contribution to the history of Roman cities, and to offer a new vision of the social and public role that women played within them.
Hemelrijk has been a senior teacher and researcher for the Instituut Geschiedenis (History Institute) at the Universiteit Utrecht since 2002. In addition she is also chief editor and chair of the editorial board of the journal Lampas, and interim member of the Academic Advisory Council (WAR) of the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut in Rome. Her previous positions have included Ancient History lecturer at the Universiteit Leiden and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Ancient History, Archaeology, and European Studies lecturer at the Haagse Hogeschool. She obtained her doctorate from Radboud Universiteit (Nijmegen) with the thesis Matrona docta: Educated women in the Roman élite from Cornelia to Julia Domna.