Resources for Teaching Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, and Marginality in Classical Antiquity
Res Difficiles | Difficult Conversations In Classics
Recordings of talks from the 2020 conference. Includes:
Brett Collins, “Institutionalizing Justice: Towards a Racially-Conscious Classics”
Ian Lockey, “Confronting Res Difficiles Through Reading Reflections” (on teaching race and ethnicity in the secondary Latin classroom)
Kelly Dugan, “Antiracism & Restorative Justice in Classics Pedagogy: Race, Slavery, and the Function of Language in Beginning Greek and Latin Textbooks”
Alicia Matz and Torie Burmeister, “Hestia: Graduate Student Self-Taught Pedagogy”
Dani Bostick, “From Awareness to Action: Using Your Power To Transform Classics”
- Panelists: Rebecca Futo Kennedy, Nadhira Hill, Katherine Blouin, Kara Cooney and Sarolta Takács; Moderators: Elizabeth M. Greene and Vivian Laughlin
- Panelists: Maggie Beeler, Bethany Hucks, Patricia Kim, Naoíse Mac Sweeney, and Lindsey Mazurek; Moderator: Dimitri Nakassis
- Webinar 3: Becoming Better Accomplices and Instructors: Justice, Activism, and Reflexivity in Teaching Museums and Cultural HeritagePanelists: Sanchita Balachandran, Elizabeth Marlowe, and Alexander Nagel; Moderators: Machal Gradoz and Morag M. Kersel
Why teach race and ethnicity in antiquity?McCoskey, Denise. 1999. "Answering the Multicultural Imperative: A Course on Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity." Classical World 92: 553-561.
Kennedy, Rebecca. 2017. "Why I Teach about Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World" Eidolon.
Hong, Yurie. 2019. "Some Concrete Suggestions post-SCS" Classics and Social Justice Blog.
Syllabi for Stand-alone Courses on Race/Ethnicity
- Ancient Identities (2017; Kennedy): same as 2020, but with difference scholarship readings and final projects.
- Ancient Identities (2016; Kennedy): same as above, but with some different readings and assignments. TTh class. Seminar. (18-25 students)
- Ancient Identities (2014; Kennedy): same as above, but without writing competency, and with different readings and assignments. TTh class. Seminar. (18-25 students)
- Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity (2011; Kennedy): the second iteration of the course, first iteration at Denison. This one is significantly different from the later versions and was not cross-listed nor a writing course. TTh class. Seminar. (18-25 students)
- Greeks, Romans, Barbarians (2008; Kennedy): the first iteration, taught at Union College and fulfilling the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Global Cultures and The Classical Tradition of the West and its Roots requirements. This was also a Writing Across the Curriculum course. MWF class. Lecture (60 students).
Blacks and the Classics I: Antiquity to Emancipation (2019; by Jackie Murray): The first course in a set of three classes that address Classics and race.
Greek Identity: Race and Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean (2017; by Sydnor Roy): In this course, we will explore who the Ancient Greeks were, how they constructed their identity, and how they described the cultures of the world around them. We will trace the development of Greek identity from the 8th century BCE to the Roman world and even into the present; and we will explore the cultures surrounding the Greeks, including the Egyptians, Persians, and Scythians.
- Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World (by Sydnor Roy): This course aims to introduce students to ancient thinking about race and ethnicity and to consider how that thinking remains current and influential today.
Multiculturalism and Cultural Identities in the Greek and Roman Worlds (by Katherine Blouin): This course provides a critical exploration of multiculturalism and cultural identities in the Greek and Roman worlds. Special attention will be dedicated to primary sources documenting these topics and to their fundamental influence on the evolution of ancient Mediterranean societies and cultures. Students will also be led to examine and discuss issues surrounding the application of modern concepts to ancient contexts, as well as to the possible historiographical pitfalls arising from contemporary ethno-cultural discourses and conflicts.
Race in the Ancient Mediterranean (2018; by Maggie Beeler): This course examines race and ethnicity in the ancient Mediterranean through the art, literature, and archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome. Students gain a background in the history and culture of the classical world that grounds critical analysis of the primary source evidence. By engaging with modern scholarship on ancient ideas about race and ethnic identity, students learn to evaluate secondary source material.
- Updated Version: Race in the Ancient Mediterranean
Race and Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean (2019; by Tedd Wimperis): In this course we will examine topics of identity, diversity, and intercultural exchange in antiquity, from the epic age of the Iliad and Odyssey through the last centuries of the Roman Empire. As we study literature and material culture alongside modern theory, we will encounter peoples and places often neglected in conventional histories of the classical world, and work toward contextualizing our own thinking about race and identity in today’s multicultural society.
Race in Antiquity and its Legacy GP (2019; by Mary Hamil Gilbert and Desireé Melonas). This class explores how the Greeks and Romans conceptualized racial difference by reading philosophical, historical, and literary texts written by and about the Greeks and Romans on the topic. We will consider how ideas about race and ethnicity evolved in antiquity as the military reach of Greece and Rome grew to encompass large swaths of Europe, Africa, and Asia and power dynamics in the mediterranean shifted. We will also spend time examining the concept of race itself, presenting it as an unfixed, socially informed, historical category and devote time to studying the ways in which the notion of “the classics” underwrote various white nationalist agendas in early modern and modern Europe and America. Additionally we will look to the burgeoning field of Classica Africana, examining classical receptions among Africana thinkers in US, African, and Caribbean contexts and consider the ways in which black people have deployed antiquity as a backdrop against which to negotiate, reclaim, and reconstitute their identities and histories. While this course does not represent a comprehensive treatment of any of these topics, it will addresses some of the central ideas and questions classicists and others are attempting to answer in the present cultural moment. In sum, this course begins with the underlying assumption that antiquity has a considerable bearing on how we have and continue to negotiate categories of race. This is true notwithstanding that what we mean by race today does not easily map on to how the Greek and Romans understood themselves and taxonomized difference.
Racial Politics and National Belonging in Early Christianity (by Maia Kotrosits): This course will address the racial, ethnic and national politics of the Roman Empire in order to better understand early Christian texts. Why were early Christians described as a “new race” of people? Why did early Christians use the language of race and ethnicity to describe themselves, and how does that fit together with Christians’ universal theological claims about inclusion and being “for all people”? What does ancient Israel as a broken nation, conquered by the Romans, have to do with understanding who Jesus was and what Jesus and his death might have meant in the first century?
Ancient Art/Modern Politics (Classics and White Supremacism; Rebecca Kennedy, 2018): This course examines art and architecture in ancient Greece and Rome and its appropriation by modern fascist governments and nationalist and white supremacist movements. The course spends the first 5 weeks focused on public art and architecture in the ancient cities of Athens and then Rome and then turns first to the theories of German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann and then examines 1. use of Classical forms to support white supremacism at World’s Fairs; 2. Mussolini’s use of the ancient Roman past; 3. Hitler’s fascination with and use of ideal Greek bodies in film and art; 4. Nazi use of Roman architectural forms; 5. Use of Classical sculpture in promotion of white supremacist groups on college campuses and the internet.
Syllabi for Courses that Include Units on Race/EthnicityAntiquity and Diversity in Contemporary Literature (by Benjamin Eldon Stevens): Comparative look at issues of identity in antiquity and contemporary America through literature and film. Includes a film series and links to secondary readings.
Immigration and Migration in the Classical World (Fall 2017; by Lindsey Mazurek): An upper-level writing intensive course. As part of this course, students create a Collaborative Dictionary of Ancient Migration. The link to it will be posted when it is completed.
Marginality in the Ancient World (Spring 2018; by Carrie Sulosky Weaver): This undergraduate course explores different groups of individuals who were marginalized in Greek society, such as those of differing ethnicity and race, the disabled and deformed, the mentally ill, slaves and others of low socioeconomic status, and we will end with a discussion marginalized individuals (e.g., Pythagoreans and Socrates). Special attention will also be paid to gender disparities, concepts of human sexuality, and age discrimination.
Modern approaches to inequality in the ancient world: Power and powerlessness in Classical Greece (by Elina Salminen): This class will introduce you to the silent majority of Classical Greece: women, slaves, and non-Greeks. We will look at archaeological, iconographic and textual evidence in search of the voices that have been silent for centuries. The focus will be on the ways in which the voices were silenced and oppressed, but we will also look at examples of resistance and self-empowerment. In addition, we will look at modern-day inequality to see if and how it can help us study inequality in antiquity, and vice versa.
Slavery, Prostitutes, and Convicts: Writing the History of the Outcast (Spring 2018; by Sarah Bond): This course looks at how we understand, construct, and depict the stories of marginalized persons from classical antiquity to the 21st century. Throughout the semester, we will compare autobiographical narratives—of slaves, prostitutes, convicted criminals, traitors, and other marginalized persons—with the depiction of these individuals in film, literature, inscriptions, manuscripts, and pop culture. Can those with privilege ever truly achieve an understanding of those oppressed by society? What are the common perceptions of these individuals and why were they perpetuated by the elites?
Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity (by Rebecca Kennedy): Includes units on ethnosexuality and foreignness.
Modules"American Pie: Leadership and Identity" by Rebecca Kennedy in Ancient Leadership in the Era of Trump: 1-2 week module for use in making connections between ancient texts and their modern interpretations and applications regarding issue of race and racism. This module was created for inclusion in an online course developed by Norman Sandridge (Howard University). Topics include: Defining Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity, "What is Western Civilization?", "What is 'Eastern' Civilization?", "Genetic Purity in Antiquity and Today," "Whiteness" and "The Polychromy Debate."
"Our Only Goal Will Be the Western Shore: Treatment of Immigrants in America and Ancient Greece" by Zoe Stamatopoulou in Ancient Leadership in the Era of Trump: A 1-week module looking comparatively at current US and Classical Athenian immigration policies.
Public-Facing, Accessible Articles/Blogs/Podcasts on Race/Ethnicity and the Field of Classics and Medieval Studies, Genetics, and 'Western Civilization'
Helpful Classics Podcasts, Videos, and General Articles (Eidolon articles listed below):
- Lepage Center Roundtable: “White Supremacy and Classical Athens: A Turning Point?” (with Curtis Dozier, Rebecca Futo Kennedy, and Jackie Murray)
- Roman Diversity: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Empire by Nandini Pandey (very good presentation on ancient Rome; actual talk starts around minute 12)
- Audio recordings and narrated slideshows on passages from Kennedy, Roy and Goldman by Rebecca Kennedy
- "The Birth of a Muthos" by Vanessa Stovall
- "Teaching Ancient Slavery in the South" by Samuel Ortencio Flores
- "Some Thoughts on AIA-SCS 2019" by Dan-el Pedilla Peralta
- "Civilization: What’s up with that?" by Katherine Blouin (@ Everyday Orientalism)
- "US" & "THEM" in the Ancient & Anglo-Saxon Worlds (Podcast@ The Endless Knot with Drs. Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram)
- "Is there a race or ethnicity in Greco-Roman antiquity?" by Rebecca Kennedy
- Race and Racism in Ancient and Medieval Studies, Part 1: The Problem, (Podcast@ The Endless Knot with Drs. Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram)
- Race and Racism in Ancient and Medieval Studies, Part 2: Responses, (Podcast@ The Endless Knot with Drs. Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram)
- "Ethnicity and Social Power in pre-Roman Italy" by Joshua Hall
- #ClassicsSoWhite by Hilary Lehman
- The Colorblind Bard: An Exchange by Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Solveig Lucia Gold
- "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts: How Neo-Nazis and Ancient Greeks Met in Charlottesville" by Denise McCoskey
- Classics Confidential interview on race/ethnicity with RF Kennedy
- 'Western Civilization' and White Supremacy: The Right-wing Co-option of Antiquity (Citations Needed Podcast)
- Diversifying Classics Lectures: Rebecca Kennedy, Arum Park, Nandini Pandey, James Newhard
- Matthias Hanses "Black Cicero: WEB Du Bois, the Ancient Romans, and the Future of Classical Scholarship"
- Aegean Prehistory (Englianos) by Dimitri Nakassis
- Classics At the Intersections by Rebecca Kennedy
- Everyday Orientalism by Katherine Blouin, Usama Ali Gad, and Rachel Mairs
- Classics and Social Justice (an SCS affiliated group)
- Multiculturalism, Race, and Ethnicity in Classics Consortium (MRECC; a little behind on the updates)
- PHAROS: Doing Justice to the Classics by Curtis Dozier
- Mary Rambaram-Olm's Medium page includes multiple essays on White Supremacism and Medieval Studies--well worth your time.
- Fight or Die: How to Move from Statements to Actions by Pria Jackson
- Classical Slavery and Jeffersonian Racism: Charlottesville, One Year Later by Sarah Teets
- Classics Makes Me Happy. Is That Enough? An Undergraduate Student of Color Examines Feelings of Guilt by Helen Wong
- White People Explain Classics to Us by Yung In Chae
- What Would James Baldwin Do? by Denise McCoskey
- Fragile, Handle with Care by Mathura Umachandran
- We Condone it By Our Silence by Rebecca Kennedy
- “The Slaves Were Happy”: High School Latin and the Horrors of Classical Studies by Erik Robinson
- Why I Teach About Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World by Rebecca Kennedy
- Race to the "Rational": The Pseudo-Scientific Roots of Racism in Classical Antiquity by Benjamin Isaac (deleted by author)
- The Nashville Parthenon Glorifies Ancient Greece — and the Confederacy by Savannah Marquardt
- How to be a Good Classicist under a Bad Emperor by Donna Zuckerberg
- Barbarians Inside the Gate, Part I by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
- Barbarians Inside the Gate, Part II by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
- Classics Beyond the Pale by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
- Bad to the Bone: The Racist Application of DNA Science to Classical Antiquity by Denise McCoskey
- Erasing History? The Roman Way to Memorialize a Painful Past by Stephen Blair
- More Than a Common Tongue: Dividing Race and Classics Across the Atlantic by Mathura Umachandran
- Reclaiming the Ancient World: Towards a Decolonized Classics by Krishnan Ram-Prasad
- Defenders of the Faith? Extremism in Classical Christian Education by Madeleine Johnson
- This is Not Sparta by Sarah Bond
- Herakles in Africa: Confronting the Other in Libya and Egypt by Najee Olya (@Ancient World Mag)
- "An Investigation of Black Figures in Classical Greek Art" by Sarah Derbew
- How Racial Bias in Tech Has Developed the “New Jim Code” by Sarah Bond and Nyasha Junior (on AI reconstructions of ancient 'faces')
- Hercules in White: Classical Reception, Art, and Myth by Aimee Hinds (@ Jugaad Project)
- The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture by Margaret Talbot (The New Yorker)
- Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color by Sarah Bond
- The New White Nationalism’s Sloppy Use of Art History, Decoded, at Artnet.com
- Scholars Explain The Racist History Of UNC's Silent Sam Statue by Kristina Killgrove
- What Ancient Romans can Teach us about Confederate Monuments by Mary T. Boatwright
- Greek Mythology Tells us that Mermaids Come in all Shades @ Artsy.com
- Roman Britain in Black and White by Mary Beard
- “A Kerfuffle About Diversity in the Roman Empire” in The Atlantic
- Beard vs Taleb: Scientism and the Nature of Historical Inquiry by Massimo Pigliucci
- Misnaming the Medieval: Rejecting “Anglo-Saxon” Studies by Mary Rambaram-Olm @ History Workshop.com
- The Many Myths of the Term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ by Mary Rambaram-Olm and Erik Wade at Smithsonian Mag
- Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy by Dorothy Kim @ Time
- Race, Racism, and the Middle Ages: "This page has been built to fuel constructive approaches for teaching about and fighting racism in medieval studies. Inspiration for the development of this lesson page comes from recent events in the academic world."
- Eugenics and Scientific Racism @ National Human Genome Research Institute
- The language of race, ethnicity, and ancestry in human genetics research by Ewan Birney, Michael Inouye, Jennifer Raff, Adam Rutherford, and Aylwyn Scally
- Genetics, Archaeology and the Far-Right: An Unholy Trinity by Susanne Hakenbeck (World Archaeology July 2019)
- Critical Review of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel @ Living Anthropologically
- Race is a Social Construct (Race and Genetics) @ Living Anthropologically
- What Happens when Geneticists Talk Sloppily about Race? @ The Atlantic
- Plug and Play" Genetics, Racial Migrations and Human History by John Edward Terrell
- "Is Race Science Making a Comeback?" Interview with Angela Saini, author of Superior: the Return of Race Science
- Kwame Appiah's Reith Lectures "Mistaken Identities" (Creed, Country, Colour, Culture)
- Southern Poverty Law Center: White Nationalism