CFP: Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy

Call for Abstracts: Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy

Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting, Jan 7–10, 2021

Curtis Dozier, director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics (pharosclassics.vassar.edu), invites the submission of abstracts on any aspect of the relationship of Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy. Selected abstracts will form a proposal for a panel on the topic to be held at the 2021 Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in Chicago, IL (Jan 7–10, 2021). If the SCS Program committee accepts our proposed panel, the Vassar College Department of Greek and Roman Studies will offer panelists who do not have tenured or tenure-track positions a $500 stipend toward the cost of attending the conference. Pharos is also offering a research service for those interested in preparing abstracts but who prefer not to visit White Supremacist websites (on which see below).

At the 2020 SCS meeting, twenty classical scholars gathered for a round table discussion about the ways the discipline of Classics has been and continues to be complicit in White Supremacy. A summary of this discussion is available here: https://bit.ly/2U6TD1L. This disciplinary conversation forms a counterpart to the many examples of Greco-Roman Antiquity being appropriated by White Supremacists outside of Classics that have been documented on the website Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics (https://pages.vassar.edu/pharos/white-nationalism-white-supremacy/). These appropriations are, in a sense, easier to confront than the implication of our discipline in racist power, because they locate racism “outside” the discipline of Classics. At the same time their blatant racism throws into relief the racial politics of many idealizing narratives about the ancient world that underpin traditional justifications for the study of Classics and continue to be prominent in the popular imagination.

This panel seeks to bring together analyses of both dimensions of the relationship between Greco-Roman Antiquity and White Supremacy: both the historical complicity of the discipline in promoting, as Critical Race Theorist Francis Lee Ansley puts it, “conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement,” and the ongoing use of Greco-Roman antiquity by overt White Supremacists as a source of legitimacy for their politics. Of particular interest are abstracts that discuss both aspects, but submissions treating one or the other are welcome as well. It is desirable, but not required, that abstracts also make recommendations for a way forward.

Possible approaches include:

  • Situating contemporary appropriations of Greco-Roman antiquity by White Supremacists in the history of the discipline of Classical Studies
  • Examining the role of outdated classical scholarship and outdated conceptions of the study of Classics in the propagation of hateful articulations of ancient history
  • Evaluating differences between current, specialized understandings of the ancient world and public perceptions of the ancient world in relation to the utility of Greco-Roman Antiquity for hate groups
  • Interrogating how the prestige of the “Classical” can often be put to hateful ends without historical inaccuracy, as when, for example, a xenophobic site cites Periclean citizenship requirements as a model to be emulated
  • Connecting the appropriation of Greco-Roman antiquity by hate groups to current disciplinary conversations around inclusion and diversity in Classics
  • Discussing the moral and ethical responsibilities of specialists when faced with such appropriations, and what limits, if any, there are to those responsibilities

Recognizing that many scholars may not wish to visit White Supremacist websites or obtain White Supremacist literature, Pharos is offering a research service to those preparing abstracts: prospective panelists may submit topics/authors/works they are interested in discussing in relation to White Supremacy and Pharos will return references to that topic (if any exist) from the major hate sites and print publications in our database. These will be provided as archived links that do not generate traffic for the sites in question. It is hoped that this service will allow a greater range of specialists to prepare abstracts for this panel.  Requests for preliminary research should be sent by email to pharosclassics@vassar.edu by the deadline listed below.

Timeline and Deadlines:

1) Requests for preliminary research should be made by email to pharosclassics@vassar.edu by 9AM EST on Monday, February 17th, 2020.

2) We will attempt to return research service results by March 1st.

3)  500 word abstracts are due at 5PM EDT Friday, March 13th, 2020. These should be submitted by email to pharosclassics@vassar.edu and should adhere to the SCS’s “Guidelines for Authors of Abstracts” (https://classicalstudies.org/annual-meeting/guidelines-authors-abstracts

4) Notifications of acceptance will be made by Monday, March 30th, 2020.   At this point accepted panelists will need to provide a current SCS Member number (as required for the Program Committee submission).

5) Proposal incorporating accepted abstracts due to the Program Committee in early April, 2020.

6) Notification of acceptance by the Program Committee in June, 2020.

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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