Letter to President Mary T. Boatwright, President-Elect Sheila Murnaghan, Immediate Past President Joseph Farrell
25 January 2019
The Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) condemns the racist acts and speech that occurred at the 2019 SCS annual meeting. The Society’s policy on harassment addresses, among other things, hostility and abuse based on race and ethnicity.
This post has recently been updated with a response from Brill.
The SCS Statement on Professional Ethics emphasizes the need for due diligence regarding the provenance of artifacts in many different areas of scholarly work, including initial publications of objects and texts and the management of institutional collections. In recognition of the importance of this issue, the SCS Board of Directors has voted to endorse an open letter on the publication of fragments that were acquired by the Museum of the Bible and published by Brill. You can read the text of the letter below, which was originally published by Dr. Roberta Mazza on November 5, 2018 and signed by many individuals. You can also read the response from Brill, originally published by Dr. Mazza on November 7.
Open letter to Brill: Fake and unprovenanced manuscripts
For the attention of Brill.
The Society for Classical Studies strongly supports the American Historical Association's statement condemning the Polish law criminalizing discussion of Polish complicity in Nazi war crimes during World War II. Open discussion of the events of the past is our own Society's raison d'être. Such discussion cannot be limited to events of which we are proud, nor can we permit those of which we are ashamed to be forgotten. These principles must apply to the study of all periods of history. Our Society's interest in this particular question involves a growing integration between what were once regarded as discrete areas in the study of Mediterranean antiquity, including Greek and Roman studies, Ancient Near Eastern studies, Jewish studies, and other related areas.
In light of the executive order on immigration issued on Friday, January 27, 2017, the Society for Classical Studies publicly reaffirms its commitment to the international community of scholars and to the importance of the free movement of scholarship and ideas. We believe that the selective ban placed on the entry to the United States by individuals of particular nationalities and (in effect) of particular religious beliefs, the suspension of all refugee processing, and the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program are harmful to students, scholars, and academic institutions in this country and, given the importance of the middle eastern region to the study of classical antiquity, of particular concern to our discipline.
The mission of the Society for Classical Studies is “to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the ancient Greek and Roman world and its enduring value.” That world was a complex place, with a vast diversity of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures spread over three continents, as full of contention and difference as our world is today. Greek and Roman culture was shared and shaped for their own purposes by people living from India to Britain and from Germany to Ethiopia. Its medieval and modern influence is wider still. Classical Studies today belongs to all of humanity.