Prolegomena to Any Future Indigenous History of the Ancient World

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The usual way of talking about indigenous peoples in antiquity is to assume analogies between any peoples who were not hegemonic or imperial and the modern victims of European settler colonialism. The merits of such comparison are less often considered, and almost never from the perspective of the population described as "indigenous."The aim of this article is to define and apply the term more carefully as a concept for premodern historians. A series of case studies from Hellenistic Anatolia illustrate how a casual use of "indigenous"leads to serious misunderstandings of imperial and colonial dynamics and indigenous self-understandings that can be rectified only by a theoretically grounded and transhistorical understanding of indigeneity. Such an approach forces us to examine the logic behind power relations and imbalances, leading to more fruitful comparison with the more familiar colonialism of the modern period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1104
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Historical Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • ancient
  • colonial/colonialism
  • indigenous people
  • precolonial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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