CFP: Contact, Colonialism, and Comparison

Call for Papers, “Contact, Colonialism, and Comparison” Conference

Different methods of ‘comparing antiquities’ do or do not presuppose the existence of contact between the civilizations they compare, or else weigh differently the importance of contact to the work of comparison. Underlying these differences are methodological questions like: to what extent, and in what ways, the history of contact between different civilizations plays a role in the work of comparison? To what extent the fact of contact between two civilizations legitimates their comparison? How the aims and methods of comparison differ in cases where contact has or has not taken place? More subtly, how should the intellectual history of contact in later periods of a region’s history affect how we do comparative work on earlier periods of that history?

These questions are particularly urgent in the case of comparison between the early Americas and Greco-Roman antiquity, where the practice of “comparing antiquities” has a long history as an intellectual tool of colonialism. Early missionaries, both Spanish and Mexican, used the texts of Classical Antiquity to dismiss as primitive the beliefs and practices of Indigenous peoples. Under the influence of racial theories inherited from the authors of classical antiquity, colonial intellectuals used comparison between the Mediterranean and tropical climates as grounds for racist generalization aimed at dehumanizing Indigenous peoples. Both assertions of similarity between the Americas and the Greco-Roman world and assertions of difference have been put in the service of colonizers’ arguments.

This conference, then, aims to think through the methodological implications of the intellectual history of contact for the modern-day academic study of Comparative Antiquity between the early Americas and the Greco-Roman world. What can the intellectual history of contact between Spanish invaders and Indigenous populations teach us about the possible methodological pitfalls of comparativism? In what ways should the history of contact affect the comparative methodologies we bring to bear on the study of American and Greco-Roman antiquities? What forms of comparison that avoid complicity with colonialist analogy are possible? How can scholars strive to make comparisons on equal terms, while acknowledging the treatment different cultures have received at the hands of intellectuals over the centuries?

To this end we invite papers from any discipline that tackle the intellectual history of contact between Spanish invaders and Indigenous populations (especially claims of analogy between pre-Christian Greco-Roman antiquity, and the pre-Christian Americas), papers that tackle methodological questions in the study of Comparative American and Greco-Roman antiquity, and papers engaged in this work of comparison with an eye to its broader political and historical context. We hope that this marriage of intellectual history, theoretical speculation, and comparative work can help scholars of many disciplines think critically and specifically about the ethical and methodological questions implicated in the work of comparison.

The conference will be held virtually from April 16-17, 2021. Papers will be pre-circulated, and each paper session will be led by a respondent before moving into a group discussion. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Please submit an anonymized, 200-300 word abstract to antiquityintheamericas@gmail.com. For more information about Antiquity in the Americas, including past events and current projects, visit https://www.antiquityintheamericas.com/.

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The automated system for the 2012-2013 APA/AIA Placement Service is now open and accepting registrations by candidates, subscribers, and institutions.  As was the case last year, registrants will need to create an account at placement.apaclassics.org and then purchase the service(s) they wish.  Registrants who used the Service last year may (but are not required to) adopt the same username and password as before; however, they will still need to create a new account.  Detailed instructions for registering for the service and then taking advantage of its features are available at the Placement web site. 

Please note the following important changes in the service this year.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:32pm by Adam Blistein.

(A longer version of the following memoir, by Helen North, Centennial Professor of Classics Emerita, Swarthmore College, was commissioned for a forthcoming volume of the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. This version was lightly edited and abridged by Ralph M. Rosen. Sadly, Professor North herself died on January, 21, 2012. Shortly before her death she had given her permission for this obituary to be abridged and published in the APA Newsletter. Special thanks to Julia Gaisser for facilitating the process, and to the American Philosophical Society for permission to print the text that follows).

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 07/16/2012 - 2:50pm by Adam Blistein.

"It was the last day of school in July 1942 in Niort, a French city occupied by the Germans. Louise Fligelman, then an eighth grader, still remembers the flurry of excitement when students and faculty were unexpectedly called to a special assembly. Her older brother, Richard, 16, was asked to step forward to accept a signal honor from the school’s principal: He had won the first prize in Latin in the prestigious concours général, a nationwide competition among high schools." Read more in The New York Times

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 07/05/2012 - 5:19pm by Information Architect.

In the latest issue of American Educator, Peter Dodington, a longtime Latin teacher, explains why studying the ancient Greek and Roman world and learning Latin achieve one of the central goals of public education: helping students think deeply about how they want to live their lives and what they hope to accomplish. Click here for the pdf.

Thanks to Ronnie Ancona, APA VP for Education, for suggesting that we post this piece on the APA Blog.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 06/28/2012 - 12:43pm by Information Architect.

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Archaeologists in Greece's second-largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was the city's main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago.

The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki's new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016. Read more…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/26/2012 - 5:12pm by Information Architect.

The APA is a member of Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW)—a coalition of organizations working to address deteriorating faculty working conditions and their effect on college and university students in the United States.  CAW has released the results of a recent survey of contingent faculty members. Designed to address the lack of data on contingent academics and their working conditions, the survey received more than 10,000 responses from faculty members who were teaching part-time in fall 2010. These responses provide the basis for a detailed portrait of the work patterns, remuneration, and employment conditions for what is now the largest part of the academic workforce.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 06/20/2012 - 12:29pm by Adam Blistein.

Do you know an outstanding classics teacher at the pre-collegiate level? Consider nominating him or her for the APA Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Pre-Collegiate Level.

Ronnie Ancona
APA Vice President for Education

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 06/08/2012 - 5:01pm by .

I met Gary in 1987 when we were both starting our careers as Visiting Assistant Professors at Union College in Schenectady, New York.  He died on December 31, 2011, after a brief battle with cancer.  The facts of Gary’s life as a classicist are clear: After earning a double Ph.D. in Classics and Comparative Literature at Yale, he went on to teach at some excellent places: Union College, George Washington, Eckerd College—where he held an endowed chair—and finally, Villanova.  His numerous publications include his excellent Euripides and the Poetics of Nostalgia, published by Cambridge University Press in 2006. Gary was a conscientious, witty, and imaginative teacher, who earned the loyalty and devotion of many of his students.     

Gary led a rich and noteworthy life. He enjoyed and took pride in his family: his two daughters, Emily and Rebecca Meltzer, their mother and his wife, Jill Ross Meltzer, his sister and her husband, Dale and David Stempler, and his array of cousins. He could not have been more devoted to Emily and Rebecca.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 06/04/2012 - 1:36pm by Adam Blistein.

From the Harvard Gazette:

Before their degrees are formally conferred at Morning Exercises, three Harvard men still have one test left to pass. Each will speak for their class before a crowd of thousands in Tercentenary Theatre, an honor given to three graduating students each year.

Once a series of thesis defenses, often presented in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, Harvard’s Commencement orations have evolved into succinct five-minute speeches. Each spring, the Harvard Commencement Office hosts a competition to select an undergraduate student, a graduate student, and an undergraduate speaking in Latin for the occasion.

Here, the Class of 2012 orators share their stories — and a glimpse at the words of wisdom they plan to offer.

Read more at http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/05/in-full-regalia-and-ready-to-regale/.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 05/27/2012 - 1:38pm by Information Architect.

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