This is an online event.
Sponsored by: AIA Iowa Society
Speaker: Margaret Beeler (Adjunct Assistant Professor in Classics, Department of Greek and Roman Classics, Temple University)
Lecture abstract: How did ancient people think about race and ethnicity? What can it tell us about our modern ideas of social difference? This paper investigates representations of race and ethnicity in the art of the ancient Mediterranean. From Greek painted pottery to Egyptian tomb decoration and Persian palatial wall reliefs, ancient artists depicted the diverse peoples of the ancient Mediterranean in a variety of contexts. Despite the wide range of different types of people represented in the art of the ancient Mediterranean, modern ideas of “the Greeks” and “the Egyptians” as distinct and unmixed populations persist in the popular imagination. Resistance to ideas of racial and ethnic diversity in antiquity are evident in the misappropriation of classical antiquity in the service of nationalist and supremacist narratives. This paper proposes that such modern conceptualizations of race and ethnicity reflect modern preoccupations with ranked social difference, ideas that held no currency in antiquity.
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