Ancient social history has long been marked by the aristocratic biases inherent in most of our textual sources. It was also strongly influenced by the predominance during the twentieth century of the normative models of the functioning of societies. The result was a tendency to emphasize the structures of domination or the role of the elites, at the expenses of the study of subaltern and popular groups in terms of their own standards, expectations, and experience. Although research topics in Ancient History have enormously expanded since the 1960s, the difficulty of building “a plausible view of any aspect of society beyond the topmost strata of wealth, power or status” (N. Purcell) continued to be a hallmark of the field, in contrast to the developments in social sciences or in other branches of the historical discipline. In recent years, however, the more theoretical reflection on the place of Ancient History in a world where the classical tradition is no longer dominant, and the emergence of research centres in peripheral countries marked by experiences of exclusion, violence and social inequality, such as Brazil, have led classicists and ancient historians to rethink their discipline in more dynamic ways. As a result, Ancient History has been reconnected with broader historiographical debates, incorporating new research subjects and criticizing in a more sustained way the very foundations of the normative models. It is in this context that the systematic investigation of the historical experiences of popular and subaltern groups, on their own terms, became of crucial importance. Such an approach has not only the advantage of questioning the limits of submission and the internalization of dependency by subalterns. It is also a way to affirm a broad historical perspective in the study of the ancient world, one that emphasizes the heterogeneity of societies and the importance of social conflict and resistance.

This research group aims to bring together teachers, researchers and students of history and related fields such as archaeology, literature, economics and social sciences to develop research and other activities related to the study of subaltern groups and popular practices in Greco-Roman antiquity. It is intended to encourage and sustain a theoretical and methodological reflection on the experience of subaltern groups, their practices, forms of expression and modes of action. It also aims to explore the specific problems involved in investigating these issues in the study of ancient societies. The activities developed by the group follow three lines of research: Domains of Popular Politics; Popular Traditions and Cultures; and Social Strategies of Subaltern Groups. The three lines of research were all aimed at discussing, from different points of view, the problems and possibilities involved in writing a more plural history of the ancient world.