This year I was named as the inaugural recipient of the Thérèse and Ronald Ridley Scholarship, established to support a current PhD candidate in the Classics and Archaeology department at the University of Melbourne, Australia. The scholarship provides for the successful recipient to spend two months in residence at the British School at Rome (BSR) between September and November to undertake research to assist PhD completion. My thesis, entitled ‘Race and Romanità in Fascist Italy’ sits at the intersection of Roman history and its modern political reception. It investigates the Italian Fascist regime’s use of ancient Rome for Fascist propaganda, particularly as justification for policies of forced Italianization in annexed borderlands.
The incredible resources at the BSR are rich and plentiful; in particular, for my work, the ability to access Italian periodicals such as Capitolium was invaluable. Additionally, the library contained many books which were instrumental to furthering my research. Of course, one of the fantastic things about being a resident at the BSR is the opportunity to visit other academic institutions in Rome; as such I was also able to utilise the wonderful libraries at the German Historical Institute, the Austrian Historical Institute, and the Belgian Historical Institute. I was welcomed with open arms at each of these institutions, which is indeed indicative of the generous nature of the academic community in Rome. Finally, I was able to utilise the resources of the Central State Archives in Rome, as well as the National Library. The combination of these resources contributed to a very productive couple of months of research.
Additionally, I visited some wonderful sites and exhibitions while in Rome, including Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica, the Sepolcro degli Scipioni, and the exhibitions Pompei e Santorini — L’eternità in un giorno at the Scuderie del Quirinale, and the Carthago: The immortal myth at the Colosseum. The latter was of particular interest given that BSR Assistant Director for Archaeology, Dr Peter Campbell, had been involved in the recovery of some of the artefacts on display. It was great to be able to hear Peter’s experience in the field first hand. I was also able to visit relevant Fascist sites and monuments, including the former Fascist youth headquarters and the Foro Italico (formerly Foro Mussolini). I was even able to attend a football game (soccer for us Aussies) for a true Roman experience, A.S. Roma v Napoli. A.S. Roma won of course!
Part of the joy of living at the BSR is the camaraderie with fellow residents. I met many people who made my stay a wonderful one, including the BSR Award Holders; all amazingly smart and talented artists and scholars, working on brilliantly interesting things. It was a delight to get to know each and every one of them, and I feel incredibly richer for having done so. However, it is of course the incredible staff who make an institution like the BSR really tick, and though I cannot list them all here, I sincerely extend my deepest gratitude to each of them for making me so welcome. Although I do feel compelled to make a particular note of perhaps the most important member of staff: resident feline Fragolina, without whom life at the BSR would not be anywhere near as delightful as it is.
My time at the BSR and the opportunity to undertake research in Rome was absolutely invaluable, and the generosity of Thérèse and Ron in making this possible will make such a difference for postgraduate research at The University of Melbourne, not only for myself, but also for future recipients, and indeed to the Melbourne Classics and Archaeology program. It was wonderful for BSR Director Stephen Milner to welcome them with a special dinner on Sunday 3 November, and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to them both for their very humbling generosity.
Donna Storey, PhD Candidate
The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
The University of Melbourne
The Thérèse and Ronald Ridley Scholarship is supported by the generous contribution of Emeritus Professor Ronald Ridley and Mrs Thérèse Ridley. Professor Ridley began his career in 1962 in the (then) History Department at the University of Melbourne as a researcher, teacher and supervisor, before joining the faculty as a Lecturer in 1965. Following the awarding of a DLitt in 1992, Professor Ridley was appointed as a Personal Chair in ancient history in June 1997, becoming Professor Emeritus following his retirement in 2005. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London, est. 1707), the Royal Historical Society (London), the Pontifical Academy of Roman Archaeology (Rome) and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.