On September 6, 2017, medieval historian David Perry published an article in the Pacific Standard remarking on how medievalists can counter the use of medieval history by White Supremacists. As Prof. Perry noted in his post, “…mostly we’re just a collection of predominantly white scholars who are surprised and disturbed to discover our classes and books might be well-received by white supremacists.” The piece hit home for many classicists as well; a field which has also grappled with the appropriation of antiquity by white supremacists. What follows is a bit of an outline of the articles written in the past year which explain the state of the problem and provide some steps towards countering this abuse of the historical record. I have never seen the medieval and ancient worlds as two different realms. Thus this short bibliography melds the two together in hopes that we can see each field’s efforts to combat this problem.
Beard, Mary, “Roman Britain in Black and White,” A Don’s Life: Times Literary Supplement (August 3, 2017).
Bond, Sarah E, “A Short History Of Torches And Intimidation,” Forbes (August 15, 2017).
_____”Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color,” Hyperallergic (June 7, 2017).
Futo Kennedy, Rebecca, “We Condone It by Our Silence: Confronting Classics’ Complicity in White Supremacy,” Eidolon (May 11, 2017).
_____”The Ancient Mediterranean Was Diverse. Why Do Some People Get So Upset When We Talk About It?” Classics at the Intersections (August 8, 2017).
_____”How is the Ancient Mediterranean Diverse If Everyone There Is “White”?” Classics at the Intersections (August 17, 2017).
_____”Blood and Soil from Antiquity to Charlottesville: A Short Primer,” Classics at the Intersections (August 17, 2017).
_____”Using Genetics to Prove Ancient Greeks Were “White”?”Classics at the Intersections (August 26, 2017).
_____”Why I Teach About Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World” Eidolon (September 11, 2017).
McCoskey, Denise Eileen, “What Would James Baldwin Do? Classics and the Dream of White Europe,” Eidolon (August 24, 2017). Please note that this is essential reading by a leading scholar in the field of race in antiquity.
Morley, Neville, “Diversitas et Multiculturalismus,” The Sphinx Blog (August 2, 2017).
Robey, Tracy E. “The Long History of Damnatio Memoriae and the Destruction of Monuments,” Jezebel (August 16, 2017).
Withun, David, “African Americans and the Classics: An Introduction,” Black Perspectives (AAIHS) (September 7, 2017).
Wenger, Ayelet, “‘Our’ ‘Classics’: Problems of Difference in Western Civilization,” Eidolon (August, 28, 2017): A great question to begin with: “The Greeks and Romans of yore are dead. The Europeans of now speak tongues only distantly related to theirs. So, the question: whose Classics are they, anyway?”
Zuckerberg, Donna, [Just Read Everything]. Dr. Zuckerberg is the editor of Eidolon. She frequently writes on this topic, and thus I would suggest just reading everything she has to say on the topic. Particularly her piece on “How to be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor” November 21, 2016.
Gabriele, Matthew, “Islamophobes want to recreate the Crusades. But they don’t understand them at all,” Washington Post (June 6, 2017).
Dark Age, Dr. @drdarkage [Added by Prof. Dorothy Kim]
— drdarkage (@drdarkage) August 3, 2017
Harland, James M.,”‘Race’ in the Trenches: Anglo-Saxons, Ethnicity, and the Misuse of the Medieval Past,” The Public Medievalist (February 17, 2017).
Kim, Dorothy, “Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy,” In the Middle: Peace, Love & the Middle Ages (August 28, 2017).
Livingstone, Josephine, “Racism, Medievalism, and the White Supremacists of Charlottesville,” New Republic (August 15, 2017).
The Public Medievalist, “Race, Racism, and the Middle Ages,” (Blog Sub-Heading).
Washington Post Staff, “Deconstructing the symbols and slogans spotted in Charlottesville,” Washington Post (August 18, 2017).
so a while ago I mentioned doing a “Crusades and Alt Right” symposium in DC area this Fall. HERE’S AN UPDATE. 1/ #medievaltwitter
— Matthew Gabriele (@prof_gabriele) July 13, 2017
Hartsuyker, Linnea, “We shouldn’t let the racists own the Vikings,” RawStory.com (August 24, 2017).
Khazan, Olga, “How White Supremacists Use Victimhood to Recruit,” The Atlantic (August 15, 2017).
Perry, David, “White supremacists love Vikings. But they’ve got history all wrong,” Washington Post (May 31, 2017).
Varghese, Sanjana, “White supremacists are embracing genetic testing – but they aren’t always that keen on the results,” New Statesman (August 18, 2017).
Official Statements from Academic Societies:
Medieval Academy: On August 18, 2017, the Medieval Academy condemned “the appropriation of any item or idea or material in the service of white supremacy. In addition, we condemn the abuse of colleagues, particularly colleagues of color, who have spoken publicly against this misuse of history.”
Society for Classical Studies: In a statement from the SCS Board of Directors, the organization noted: “…the Society strongly supports efforts to include all groups among those who study and teach the ancient world, and to encourage understanding of antiquity by all. It vigorously and unequivocally opposes any attempt to distort the diverse realities of the Greek and Roman world by enlisting the Classics in the service of ideologies of exclusion, whether based on race, color, national origin, gender, or any other criterion. As scholars and teachers, we condemn the use of the texts, ideals, and images of the Greek and Roman world to promote racism or a view of the Classical world as the unique inheritance of a falsely-imagined and narrowly-conceived western civilization.”
Classics and Social Justice: The mission of this group is stated thusly: “Outreach that brings classics out of the academy and returns it to the least privileged in our society.” A section heading of their blog brings together a number of syllabi addressing social justice topics in the study of antiquity.
Futo Kennedy, Rebecca, “Bibliography for Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World,” Classics at the Intersections (August 14, 2017).
Eidolon: A new feature area for the online Classics journal is #syllabi, which reacts to the use of various classical authors and issues within the zeitgeist with sets of reading on the issue. The first one is on Thucydides and is written by ancient historian Neville Morley.
- Morley, Neville, “Thucydides and Contemporary Politics: A Syllabus,” Eidolon (September 1, 2017).
a. Mendelsohn, Daniel, “Theatres of War: Why the battles over ancient Athens still rage,” The New Yorker (January 12, 2004).
Hsy, Jonathan and Julie Orlemanski, “Race and Medieval Studies: A Partial Bibliography” [Crowd-Sourced and by far the very best resource for the issues dealt with this summer in respect to diversity, race, and inclusion in medieval studies.]
Medieval People of Color Tumblr: My suggestion is to include a number of posts in your next Western Civilization or history course. This is also a fantastic image resource.
As per usual with all of my previous bibliography, if you have something to add, please do so in the comments section. You will be credited for your contribution.