Editor’s Spotlight: Meet Ryan Abrecht, reviews editor of Studies in Late Antiquity

This post is part of a blog series introducing the editors of Studies in Late Antiquity (SLA), our new online quarterly journal scheduled to launch in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Editor’s Spotlights with other SLA editors leading up to the journal launch.


RRA with Tetrarchs
Ryan Abrecht, University of San Diego

We are pleased to introduce Ryan Abrecht, assistant professor at University of San Diego and Book Review Editor of Studies in Late AntiquityA specialist in ancient Mediterranean history and culture, Abrecht’s scholarly work focuses on the history of the Roman Empire, but also endeavors to put Roman history into dialogue with the histories of other regions and to consider the continuing influence of antiquity on modern attitudes and world events. He is also broadly interested in premodern world history, in particular in the comparative study of ancient Roman and Chinese imperialism.

With his wide-ranging background in ancient history across the East and West, the Book Review section of SLA will reflect the journal’s mission of connecting the Mediterranean world with other ancient regions.

We sat down with Abrecht to talk more about his research interests, what drew him to the journal, and how he thinks Studies in Late Antiquity will influence scholarship in the field.

Can you tell us more about your research interests and areas of expertise?

My scholarly work focuses on the history of the ancient Mediterranean, but also endeavors to put that history into dialogue with the histories of other regions and to consider the antiquity’s continuing influence on modern attitudes and world events. I’m interested in the ways that imperialism reshapes the identities of both conquerors and conquered people alike. As a result, some of my research focuses on interactions between different groups in borderlands and frontier regions, such as the contacts that developed between Romans and Germanic peoples along the Rhine and Danube Rivers in late antiquity. I am also interested in urban history and in the relationships between social and spatial boundaries that shape urban landscapes. With that in mind, I’m currently working on a book manuscript that analyzes immigration and neighborhood life in imperial cities such as classical Athens, imperial Rome, late antique Constantinople, and Tang dynasty Chang’an.

unnamedWhat drew you to editorship of Studies in Late Antiquity?

Beyond the chance to work closely with a group offantastic colleagues, what drew me to the editorial board of Studies in Late Antiquity was the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of new scholarship about the late antique world and to develop relationships with others around the world who share my enthusiasm about it. I see SLA as a perfect opportunity to both broaden and critique the boundaries meaning of late antiquity as a field of study. Late antiquity in the Mediterranean, for example, looks quite different than it does in post-Han dynasty China, yet in both places we can trace a shift from an older “classical” model of social and political organization and the emergence of something new. I am excited to have conversations with a diverse group of scholars who can tease out the common ground between these different “late antiquities” while simultaneously calling attention to the contextual differences that make them unique. In short, I’m excited that SLA will be a way explore the different meanings of late antiquity with colleagues whose ideas will challenge and enrich my own.

How do you anticipate Studies in Late Antiquity will influence the scholarship in your field?

Through serving as SLA’s Book Review Editor, I’ll be able to think with others about how the questions we ask about the often tumultuous late antique world relate to contemporary issues such as migration, religious violence, or ethnic conflict. I see this new journal as a perfect opportunity to talk more about issues of reception – how we see the past differently and assign new meanings to it in response to the changing circumstances of the present. I’m already confident that Studies in Late Antiquity will add the expanding body of knowledge about late antiquity by supporting new scholarship and innovative research. Beyond this, I’m also hopeful that Studies in Late Antiquity will galvanize scholars working on a wide range of topics to think about what they can learn from each other by looking beyond the boundaries that have traditionally defined disciplines, geographical regions, and historical periods.


Want to get more involved with SLA? Here are just a few ways:

  • Submit your papers to SLA. Visit sla.ucpress.edu for more information.
  • Recommend SLA to your institution. Give this Library Recommendation Form to your campus librarian to request that your library pre-order a subscription.
  • Sign up for SLA launch updates! For future updates on the inaugural issue, free sample content, and more, sign up for email alerts at sla.ucpress.edu.