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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"An enigmatic message on a Roman gladiator's 1,800-year-old tombstone has finally been decoded, telling a treacherous tale. The epitaph and art on the tombstone suggest the gladiator, named Diodorus, lost the battle (and his life) due to a referee's error, according to Michael Carter, a professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada. Carter studies gladiator contests and other spectacles in the eastern part of the Roman Empire." Read more at LiveScience.com…

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 1:25pm by Information Architect.

"Jacques A. Bailly, an associate professor of classics at the University of Vermont, is the department's director of graduate studies. He has also been the official pronouncer of words at the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2003. He won the annual bee as an eighth grader in 1980." Read the interview with Prof. Bailly at The Chronicle of Higher Education's web site.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 3:37pm by Information Architect.

"NATO refused to say Tuesday whether or not it would bomb ancient Roman ruins in Libya if it knew Moammar Gadhafi was hiding military equipment there. 'We will strike military vehicles, military forces, military equipment or military infrastructure that threaten Libyan civilians as necessary,' a NATO official in Naples told CNN, declining to give his name in discussing internal NATO deliberations." Read more at CNN World online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 2:30pm by Information Architect.

The American Philological Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ellen Bauerle of the University of Michigan Press as Editor, and Dr. Wells Hansen of Milton Academy as Assistant Editor, of Amphora, its Outreach publication, effective January 2012.

Ellen has for several years worked as the editor for classics and archaeology at the University of Michigan Press. She also oversees book production for the not-for-profit Michigan Classical Press, and in the past has created and sold ebooks on the web.  Recipient of a BA in Greek and English from Oberlin College, and an MA and PhD in Classics from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, she has been an Eric P. Newman Fellow at the American Numismatic Society and Seymour Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.  Ellen is delighted that Amphora is evolving to include the latest technologies, as additional ways of reaching its key constituencies among interested nonspecialists, scholars, teachers and students at the secondary level, and administrators.  

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 6:27pm by .

Read Michael Collier's poem "Laelaps" and a critical essay about it by Lisa Russ Sparr at The Chronicle of Higher Education's web site.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 2:29pm by Information Architect.

Got Latin? Got Greek?

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Fri, 06/10/2011 - 2:42pm by .

Delivered by Charlie Bridge (Class of 2011), a Classics Concentrator, at Harvard Commencement on May 27:

Rota Fortunae

Praeses Faust; Decani Professoresque sapientissimi; familiae, amici, et hospites honoratissimi; et tandem condiscipuli carissimi…salvete omnes!  Mihi voluptas magna atque honor altus est huius ceremoniae incipiendae in hoc theatro augusto Trecentensimo.  Nec solum conventum ultimum classis nostrae, anni duomillensimi et undecimi, sed etiam conventum trecentensimum et sexagensimum huius universitatis hodie celebramus. 

Hoc cum animadvertissem gaudebam, propter sensum singularem numeri trecenti et sexaginta.  Ne mihi quidem, litterarum antiquarum discipulo, latere potest orbem omnem in partes trecentas et sexaginta esse divisum.  Venit etiam in mentem orbis quidam praecipuus, qui vitas nostras hos quattuor annos rexit: Rota scilicet Fortunae Harvardiana.  Temporibus antiquis, rota signum erat levis mobilisque naturae fatorum – circuitus vel unus cladem felicissimis afferre atque miseros extollere potest.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 7:05pm by Information Architect.

"One of the best preserved sculptures from Roman antiquity is about to make its Washington, D.C., debut. Host Scott Simon reports the Capitoline Venus will go on display next Wednesday at the National Gallery of Art." Read or listen to the story at NPR.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 06/05/2011 - 12:27pm by Information Architect.

"Listening to Cynthia Shelmerdine describe the writing on a Greek tablet from more than 3,000 years ago, it’s like she was looking over the scribe’s shoulder as he worked. She points out details and nuance of technique, the condition of the tablet and what it means, literally, and for the world of Greek archaeology." Read more …

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 06/03/2011 - 3:58pm by Information Architect.

"An ancient Roman shipwreck nearly 2,000 years old may once have held an aquarium onboard capable of carrying live fish, archaeologists suggest." Read more at CBSNews.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 06/02/2011 - 5:37pm by Information Architect.

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