Vandalia: Identity, Policy, and Nation-Building in Late-Antique North Africa
In 534, after the conquest of the Vandal kingdom, Procopius tells us that the emperor Justinian deported all remaining Vandals to serve on the Persian frontier. But a hundred years of Vandal rule bred cultural ambiguities in Africa, and the changes in identity that occurred during the Vandal century persisted long after the Vandals had been shipped off to the East: Byzantine and Arabic writers alike shared the conviction that the Africans had, by the sixth and seventh centuries, become something other than Roman. This thesis surveys the available evidence for cultural transformation and merger of identities between the two principal peoples of Vandal Africa, the Vandals and the Romano-Africans, to determine the origins of those changes in identity, and how the people of Africa came to be different enough from Romans for ancient writers to pass such comment. It examines the visible conversation around ethnicity in late-antique Africa to determine what the defining social signifiers of Vandal and Romano-African identity were during the Vandal century, and how they changed over time. Likewise, it explores the evidence for deliberate attempts by the Vandal state to foster national unity and identity among their subjects, and in particular the role that religion and the African Arian Church played in furthering these strategies for national unity. Finally, it traces into the Byzantine period the after-effects of changes that occurred in Africa during the Vandal period, discussing how shifts in what it meant to be Roman or Vandal in Africa under Vandal rule shaped the province's history and character after its incorporation into the Eastern Empire.