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Being Christian in Vandal AfricaThe Politics of Orthodoxy in the Post-Imperial West$
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Robin Whelan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295957

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295957.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 21 January 2022

Christianity, Ethnicity, and Society

Christianity, Ethnicity, and Society

(p.165) 6 Christianity, Ethnicity, and Society
Being Christian in Vandal Africa

Robin Whelan

University of California Press

This chapter tackles the interaction of ethnic and Christian identities in Vandal Africa. Its premise is that the dominant paradigm of dual ethnic and Christian affiliations—rooted in Victor of Vita’s fundamental dichotomy between Vandal Arians and Roman Catholics—does justice neither to the variety and subtlety of contemporary perspectives nor to the insights of recent critical work on group identities in late antiquity. Each form of identity was, at most, intermittently important for the inhabitants of post-imperial Africa. Ethnic affiliation does not seem to have mattered all that much to the kings and clerics who sought to police their orthodox communities, whether Homoian or Nicene: if any group was singled out, it was the service aristocracy of the kingdom, whatever their ethnicity. Beyond Victor of Vita, when ethnic-group formation and ethnographic perspectives shaped contemporary ideas of Christian community, it was in surprisingly subtle, varied, and even sympathetic ways.

Keywords:   ethnicity, ethnography, barbarians, Vandals, elites, courtiers, identity, boundaries, Germanic Arianism

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