The Fire Right Now

October 22, 2021

Princeton University classicist Dan-el Padilla Peralta will be joined by Brown University classicist Johanna Hanink to discuss what, if anything, the study of the ancient Mediterranean has to offer us in this specific moment of calamity – the result and sum total of many earlier moments and histories of calamity, most notably the violences of the transatlantic slave trade and Euro-American settler-colonialism. In place of the knee-jerk rush in some circles to ostensibly emancipatory or liberatory uses of the “classical” past, they will consider the benefits of what Charles Mills has termed “the illumination of Blackness” or what Jacoby Adeshei Carter has singled out as a pressing need for canon-builders in philosophy: “a lively active oppositional set of communities of inquiry.”

Below is a list of readings discussed during the program:

Epistimicide: the Roman Case by Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Ancient Rome Was Teetering. Then a Volcano Erupted 6,000 Miles Away by Katherine Kornei

Black Age: Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life by Habiba Ibrahim

The Essential June Jordan by June Jordan, eds. Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller

Global Classics by Jacques Bromberg

Trouillot Remixed: The Michel-Rolph Trouillot Reader by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, eds. Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, and Mayanthi Fernando

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop


Dan-el Padilla Peralta is Associate Professor of Classics at Princeton University, where he is affiliated with the Programs in Latino Studies and Latin American Studies and the University Center for Human Values. A Dominican by birth and New Yorker by upbringing, he holds degrees from Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford. He is the author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin 2015) and Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic (PUP 2020); and he has co-edited Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation (CUP 2017). His current projects include a co-authored study of 338 BCE and the origins of Roman imperialism (under contract with HUP), A People’s History of Rome (under contract with PUP), a co-edited volume on new approaches to the Middle Roman Republic, and a co-authored book-length essay on race and racism in the disciplinary identity of Classics.

Johanna Hanink is Professor of Classics at Brown University. She writes and teaches on various aspects of Greek antiquity and its legacy. Her work in Classics focuses on the literature and culture of classical Athens, while her work in Modern Greek Studies is centered on how ideas about the ancient past shape the modern world. She is currently co-editor of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies. She is also a translator of Greek: ancient, modern, and in-between. She holds a PhD in Classics from the University of Cambridge.

This program was sponsored by:
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Categories: Classics, Social Justice