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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Penelope and the Suitors, by John William Waterhouse. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Blog: Weaving Humanity Together: How Weaving Reveals Human Unity in Ancient Times

To start with, she lived a respectable life, frugal and hard;
she earned her living by weaving and spinning wool.

primum haec pudice uitam parce ac duriter
agebat, lana ac tela uictum quaeritans.

— Terence the African (P. Terentius Afer), The Girl from Andros, 74–75

This line drew my attention because I am an avid fiber artist. When I am not reading, teaching, and writing about Classics and its connection to Black people, I am in my wool room, lost in the magical world of fiber arts. This line from The Girl from Andros has led me on a new journey of discovering fiber arts in ancient times.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 06/02/2021 - 1:18pm by .
Ravenna Mosaic. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought historical epidemics into contemporary public awareness on a massive scale. Although ancient pandemics have been studied in detail since at least the 19th century, over the past year, outbreaks of the past have become apparently more relevant for what they might offer us today. Of course, the interest in historical pandemics seems to increase every time contemporary diseases draw public attention. Over the last three decades, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Zika, among others, have made headlines, increasing interest in past diseases, even if not on the same scale as Covid. Presentist concerns, unsurprisingly, drive historical research.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/28/2021 - 10:26am by .

This is a reminder that the AIA-SCS Future Meetings Survey is now available.

Please click here to access the survey, which should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.

The survey will remain open until May 31.

The 2022 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 5 – Saturday, January 8 in San Francisco at the Hilton Union Square, with the Parc 55 hotel serving as an overflow property. AIA and SCS signed contracts with these hotels several years prior to COVID-19, and we realize that attendees’ expectations and needs have changed since then owing to concerns about public health, accessibility, and cost. With this in mind, please take some time to fill out our survey on the 2022 meeting and on longer term planning for our conferences. The survey results will assist us in determining the optimal format and structure for our 2022 meeting and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 05/25/2021 - 1:36pm by Erik Shell.

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop 2021: Ovid’s Little Aeneid

Dates: July 12-16, 2021

Location: Zoom link to be provided to registered participants

Text: Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.623–14.582

Moderators: Meghan Reedy (D. Phil. Oxford), Christopher Francese (Prof. of Classical Studies, Dickinson College)

Cost: $200

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 05/24/2021 - 5:36pm by Erik Shell.
14th century illustrated manuscript of Omne Bonum (by James le Palmer – British Library MS Royal 6 E. VI, fol. 301ra); it shows a bishop instructing clerics with leprosy.

What use is Covid-19? Despite its epidemiological and socioeconomic consequences, can this pandemic do anything good for scholars? For Classicists? For one thing, we have seen the capacity of the virus to generate numerous themed conferences, journal volumes, and lecture series. Whether that’s a “good thing” is another matter. But, at the very least, we may say that this global pandemic renders a cluster of ideas more broadly interesting and salient than usual.

For some scholars, such events have proved fortuitous: say, for example, Kyle Harper, whose The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of and Empire appeared in late 2017 and dealt with disease and pandemic in late antiquity. Frank M. Snowden’s Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present has witnessed renewed interest. For some scholars, Classicists or not, Covid-19 has highlighted their work. No one likes to benefit from a public emergency — as a former wildland firefighter, a profession which lives for forest fires, I know the feeling — but it happens. It is outside our control.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/21/2021 - 10:08am by Carson M Bay.
Mary Beard in conversation with Vanessa Stovall and Ky Merkley

In Dialogue: Trans Studies and Classics works to bring some of the insights and lived experiences found in transgender studies into conversation with the Classics, in the hope that bringing these into dialogue with each other will enrich our pedagogy, deepen our understanding of what gender as an identity category even means, and help critique the various ways gender has been used as an instrument of power throughout history, while also creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for our students. If you’d like to contribute to this column or have ideas that could add to this conversation, email Ky Merkley.

When the latest ‘Twitter storm’ (to quote Mary Beard) broke out, my Twitter feed rapidly filled with heated denunciations of ‘cancel culture,’ cruel words directed at trans folx, and pontifications about the state of Classics. For many members of the trans community, this Twitter ‘dialogue’ was exhausting. Every day, a new blog post or article added more fuel to an ever-growing fire.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 05/17/2021 - 10:19am by .
LGBT Meets SPQR Logo

I wish that LGBT Meets SQPR had existed as I began my journey into Greco-Roman antiquity in high school. As a closeted gay youth, I was eager to find stories, experiences, and anecdotes that could help me understand my identity better and not feel quite so alone. Modern LGBTQIA+ youth seem to gravitate towards Classics for such resources and community-building. In a survey conducted by Hannah Clarke, young queer people indicated that their interest in Classics stemmed from the fact that “Classics remedies, to a certain extent, anxieties of feeling culturally temporary. [The survey respondents] describe the visibility of queer figures in Classics classes as providing a sort of temporal anchor, which proves that they are not the result of a trend, something that came about in the 70s, something that is having a moment and could potentially vanish once more.”

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/14/2021 - 10:06am by Daniel Libatique.

The 2021 season of the Digital Classicist London seminar is on the theme of world classics: we have put together a programme of speakers who are working with digital humanities and digital classics methods to the study of antiquity—whether language, corpora, archaeology—from across the world. All sessions are streamed live on Youtube, and will also be available to watch there afterwards.

All seminars at 17:00 (UK time).

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 05/11/2021 - 5:27pm by Erik Shell.

(Sent on behalf of Lawrence Kowerski)

Dear friends of the Classics Program at Hunter College,

Please join us Friday, May 14, at 5pm for the 83rd Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture (see the attached poster). The lecture is taking place virtually over Zoom, and pre-registration is required at the link below. In addition to the lecture, the event will begin with a student award ceremony and a celebration of recent graduates from the Classics Program at Hunter.

83rd Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture, Friday, May 14, 5-7pm

"What did the Romans want from their law?"

Michael Peachin, Professor of Classics (New York University)

Register at this link:

https://huntercollege.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwodu2prDwjHd0KuXntHJFFpwQ8YOY6WivN

(If the link doesn't take you to a registration screen when you click on it, please try cutting and pasting it manually into your browser. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)

We hope to see many of you there!

Lawrence Kowerski
Associate Professor in Classics (Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:41pm by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

THE WINNER OF THE 2020 LONDON HELLENIC PRIZE  -- PRESS RELEASE

The LHP adjudicating committee met by teleconference on May 7th to discuss the Shortlist of candidates for books published in 2020 and select the winner. The committee was chaired by A.G. Leventis Professor emeritus Paul Cartledge (Clare College, University of Cambridge) and also included Professor Peter Frankopan (Worcester College, Oxford), Mr Robin Lane Fox (New College, Oxford), Dr Nick Lowe (Royal Holloway, University of London), Professor emeritus Michael Paschalis (University of Crete), and Dr Jennifer Wallace (Peterhouse, University of Cambridge).

The five books shortlisted by the committee were:

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 05/11/2021 - 12:52pm by Erik Shell.

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