Prof Christian Laes

Professor of Ancient History

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I study the social and cultural history of Roman and Late Antiquity, paying particular attention to the human life course: childhood, youth, family, sexuality, and disabilities. My monographs and over hundred contributions have been published with internationally renowned publishers and journals. I am a member of several international research networks: Religion and Childhood. Socialisation in Pre-Modern Europe from the Roman Empire to the Christian World (2009-2012), Handwörterbuch der antiken Sklaverei (2011-2013), Roman Society Research Center (2010-   ), Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World (2012-   ) and Tiny Voices from the Past. New Perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe (2013-2017).

I held guest professorships at several European and American universities: Coimbra, Hamilton (Colgate), Leuven, Oslo, Nicosia (Open University), Tampere, and Vilnius. Since June 2013, I have been granted the title of Adjunct Professor (Docent) in Ancient History at the History Department of the University of Tampere (Finland).  From the 1st of August 2014 to the 1st of August 2016, I was a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Social Research at the same university. From October 2016 on, I became an Invited Professor at the Pontificium Institutum Altioris Latinitatis (Salesiana, Rome). In 2016-2017 I acted as an Inspector for Classical Languages with the Flemish Ministery of Education. In 2017-2018, I was a Visiting Professor at the University of Fribourg, with research on play and education with Véronique Dasen and the team of the ERC Advanced Grant Locus Ludi. The Cultural Fabric of Play and Games in Classical Antiquity (FNS Scientific Exchange Grant 1.10.2017-31.3.2018).

In the last years, I have been much involved in the study of disability history of Antiquity. Next to a monograph, an edited bookvolume and several articles, this interest also led to the development of a website Disability History and the Ancient World containing a regularly updated bibliography on the subject.

For my research, I have made extensive use of inscriptional evidence. My love for documentary philology, mainly epigraphy, caused me to be involved in the excavations of Grumentum. An edition of the epigraphical material of this Roman town in Lucania was published in November 2020.

Educated as a classical philologist, I have kept my zeal for Latin language and literature, occasionally publishing on Neo-Latin writers as Nodot, Schnur, De Groot, De Laet, Van Torre, Pascoli. As a Sodalis and Vice-President of the established Academia Latinitati Fovendae, I promote the use of the Latin language.

I am also passionate about the didactics of Latin and Ancient Greek, including the beginners level. As such, I acted as an expert, appointed by the Flemish Minister of Education, for the development of new attainment targets of classical languages (2019-2020). As the president (2013-2020) of Classica Vlaanderen I actively support the cause of ancient languages in the Flemish secondary school system and in European context. In 2019, I was elected as the new president of Euroclassica.

I arrived in Manchester in September 2018. Since then, I became an elected Council Member of the Roman Society and a member of the evaluation body of the Swiss SNF SPIRIT Evaluation Commission.

In my free time, I am a keen traveller. A taste for fine dining is one of my weaknesses.  

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