PillarTalk: Race and Diversity in CAHAE (The UoM CAHAE Podcast S1:E14)

hi everyone and welcome back to the podcast for this week’s episode we’re having a wide look at the world of kahi and talking about race and diversity within the university department and the discipline as a whole back in june the kahi society sent out an open letter to the department regarding the black lives matter movement and after a meeting with the department it was decided that this year we would put much more time into highlighting problems and inclusion within our discipline one of our aims was to be as transparent as possible and recognize that as a society and department that we aren’t diverse and the people of colour make up a minority of our department and this is something we want to change not just for the people attending university but also the content that is taught instead of us just here in the society discussing race in a podcast that we stood we wanted to get involved with the department and outside organizations to put together an episode devoted to discussing some of the current issues and how we can develop our department to make it more diverse and inclusive in this episode we’re going to be talking to dan our inclusions officer to hear our treasurer dr hannah cobb dr roberta mata and tanya from teachbot studies uom we’re now going to hand you over to dan our inclusions officer to talk a little bit about his role and some of the current issues regarding race within our discipline hi everyone i’m dan i’m a third year ancient history student and i’m the inclusions officer for the classics ancient history archaeology and egyptology society this month is black history month and so for this i want to talk about fame in classics and archaeology however upon doing some research i was disturbed to see how little pain actually was in these subjects you know there’s been some examples of or exceptions of fame archaeologists and classicists for example dr georgia bungu and dr alexander jones um currently in john wesley gilbert who’s probably most famous historically and i wanted to also do an instagram post on the society about him because i feel like he needs to be celebrated more and also some vain processes such as william edward bowen william henry krugman and william lewis bulky the name just a few williams bang williams that i didn’t mean to do that but yes they were brilliant however these people are in the minority in a white dominated field and stood out for being exceptional for overcoming the ice and it’s just like a representation of what i’d have to come over come on to begin with is what i want to talk about the issue of poor representation of pain within these fields and is not just a historical one but also contemporary in 2013 the charity institute of archaeologists published a profiling and professional report and it revealed that 99 of archaeologists were white it’s quite an alarming statistic it made me think well why is archaeology and classics appealing to the really white demographic and um after some research i believe that it’s just how racism and elitism has and had penetrated to the core of the subject and while there is movements for change and improvement now and they are successful but you’re still very much ingrained in the way it’s taught and the way you perceive it that still makes it a largely it still makes it exclusively appealing to what you’ll be an audience i’ve always thought myself quite open-minded and with few prejudices however when i was looking into that in my field up was complicit passively but i felt revolving completely and it researching it has changed my perspective you know term classics is a bit updated now i feel um because plastic’s only traditionally covered recently but we’re calling it classics we are suggesting that reaching them like declassified the elite and that sort of suggests that all others are all of the societies are inferior and we should look at other societies at the time then the classical period there are hundreds of different cultures you know i it’s upsetting because i very much thought i’d not have learned much about that canadian empire if alexander hadn’t conquered them it’s an empire that was huge that was probably more successful and more influential than ancient greece at the time however because they are middle eastern i’ve only ever learned about it from the context and perspective of the greek especially alexander or democrat or maleficent the main issue is that is that classic could be the most in inclusive historical subject there is you know we can look at all these huge empires to history that have intermingled with other cultures and nationalities and for the most part they’ve come under quite oppressive rules and you know the roman empire as an example is an empire it’s still impressive however the subjects did have more freedom and romans did adopt their customs more willingly you know there were many different people from many different nationalities that wrote prominence in the roman empire that gives us a shared universal history to celebrate it isn’t just a what a white european

one you know section of the southwest in his dynasty it was middle eastern and north african you know lucius appelius madovensis the guy who wrote gold nuts which is considered the very first novel and the john argued the very first fable um was namidia he was not he was african and so even if we only consider rome or classics to be roman greece there was so much inside where we can represent that and celebrate it and to really form help they inform a connection with their own history but it’s also how to be a shared one it is inclusive it should be and um so that’s you know and if we have a connection of them have a connection with their own history or our history you know it’s a joint one that we should all be interested in it’s important to all of us and it should be it’s not just a white european thing i think we would see more diversity in the colonization within classics itself which would potentially or hopefully improve the demographics with a representation of demographics in you know archaeology professionally so i think we should celebrate lane i think is an important month and um although this has probably been a bit of a rant there are it’s really struck a chord with me how much or how much further there is to go and improving it so i’ll put a post about this um john wesley gilbert and yeah that’s it and also if you want to read something about some modern day playing experiences within classics um hadith seen dinzer published a speech on his noteworthy speech from classics in rome uh classics and race from 2019 accent andrews which i found quite powerful um i think that’s all i’ve got to say so thank you for coming to my ted talk and hopefully see you guys soon next up we have tahira our treasure at the kahi society to talk about her experience as a person of color studying classics at university hi my name is tahirah i’m a second year classic student at university of manchester and i’m the khaki society’s treasurer for this year i’m here to talk about my experiences as a person of color at university so i’ve always loved history but it wasn’t until i started reading about egyptian greek and roman mythology that i really started getting interested in ancient history at my at my school uh ancient history wasn’t an option in any way other than maybe a unit or two within history like the big bulk and we mainly focused on things like post world war ii politics so it was really all me uh learning and reading about age history and funnily enough my school actually started to uh teach greek and latin as part of religious education since they were a catholic school after i left so i never had the opportunity to um learn greek or latin but i was interested in you know writing little things down by on my own so i didn’t actually know uh that classics was a degree until i started uh applying to universities and i always thought that i would just do maybe history or ancient history or something like that or maybe english and um when i started to apply a lot of people around me are at my state school which was very diverse and where white people were actually then one minority um i was told oh why are you going to do that like it’s you’re not going to get a job it’s um it’s not for you know working-class people it’s humanity’s subject it’s not really that serious or whatever but i i was really interested in the subject and i thought who cares you know but obviously our ethnic minorities working class people they’re told you know go into medicine um go into economics become a you know uh whatever and you you’re not really pushed to do things like um the arts or anything because you know we’re trying to go up the social ladder and things like that are mostly reserved for people

who can afford like middle class upperclass people who can afford to do a job that isn’t really paying off that well so i was quite excited to come to uni but i was also a bit apprehensive because obviously i knew that it was a very white dominated subject and i was aware i would probably be one of the few um persons of color there and i am i’m i think i’m one of the only or maybe i am the only black person in the entire cohort but obviously i’ve seen um other ethnic minorities um around the school of classics and history and agentology um and also around the university so i haven’t felt that left out but it is weird to come from a school where in london where things are very diverse to a lecture hall where i’m the only person of color and while we’re talking about a subject that white pharisists have used to you know back up their racist arguments or whatever for a very long time and a subject which is often um reserved for the middle class and um or often seen as a subject for etonians or um people go tarot private schools so that was you know a bit difficult but i haven’t felt uncomfortable but i will say there is work to be done um obviously we need better representation we need um people to feel that they can do this subject we need people to think that you know it’s not just for it is for everyone if they wish to wish to do it and it’s not a useless subject and whatever you don’t do you can do i think it’s interesting on the point of wider history there’s only one female black professor of history in the uk which is obviously a big problem not just for ethnic minorities but for women and history you know we can’t have uh white people dominating history forever because obviously that gets used to um make political points and just skew skew skew the data and skew history so obviously we need to make a change and that’s why i wanted to do classic so that i could get my foot in the door if i if not me then who you know i wasn’t gonna let the fact that i was gonna be one of the only black people that stopped me so i didn’t really mind and i’m aware that there’s there are obviously people that prefer me not to be in the uh classics community as a whole but you know if we don’t if we don’t take the steps to decolonize um the subject then it will never be done and our reputation will continue to be you know the snooty sort so yeah i’m really grateful to uh be a student and i hope that in the future more people will be interested in studying classics and i know that university is improving upon representation and i know that the car kahi um department is improving on decline like deconalising the classics and i know that there’s things like classics to rule which will open up opportunities for people in marginalised communities to do what they want which is all i ask for so all we can ask for so yeah thank you so much for having me on the podcast next up dr hannah cobb is going to talk a little about some of the problems regarding diversity more specifically in the world of archaeology and what we can do to overcome some of these challenges hello my name is dr hannah cobb i’m a senior lecturer in archaeology here in the department of classics ancient history archaeology and egyptology at the university of manchester i have got lots of different interests i’m really interested in british pre-history and the um and particularly hunter-gatherers um but what i’m also really interested in is contemporary practice and how we do archaeology and how we uh use the past in the present so i teach quite a lot of the field

practice i teach the field practice modules here at the university uh but also uh professionally i’m involved in archaeology’s professional body which is sifa the chartered institute for archaeologists and within sifa i chair the equality and diversity group so i’m really grateful to the kahi society for inviting me along to have a chat about issues of race and diversity within archaeology and i know this is part of a broader uh podcast that i’m i’m i’m really excited about listening to so thank you for having me the society have set me four questions uh to answer and uh because i can’t escape from my lecturer ways i’ve put them in some powerpoint slides i appreciate though that some people will be listening to this as well so i will try and talk through everything uh so that it’s not you’re not reliant on the visuals um so but and mostly i’ve i’ve created these slides with these questions because they’re really tough questions and um they’re all things where i’m gonna give a really simple and short overview uh but i should caveat this by saying what i’m saying is is really the a very condensed version there’s so much you can read on these subjects and and i’ll uh pass on to the society some suggested re readings um and hopefully that will be really useful to you i know if uh some students who might be listening to this uh are doing their heritage and reception course then we talk about some of these issues throughout that course particularly and if you’re doing doing archaeology 2 next semester we’ll also talk about that but i know that there’ll be people who are listening who aren’t from the university of manchester so i will also uh put a reading list in with the society so they can involve and put it in the comments for the podcast so um i’ll stop waffling because i realize that there’s a very short amount of time to talk about this and there’s so much to say the first question is why is there so much controversy surrounding race in the discipline of archaeology and goodness me this is one where i could probably talk forever and ever um but i’ve whittled it down to a few points and i think in summary there is so much controversy surrounding race in the discipline of archaeology because of the context in which archaeology and not just archaeology but classics and ancient history and the study of the past have all emerged as part they all really sort of emerged and developed in the 1800s at a time where you know colonialism was at its zenith and the interest in the past uh was sort of permeated with all the values that under the underwrite that period of colonialism this idea that the west is the most civilized the most preeminent that the other anyone else out there can be objectified and commodified and in our case the past falls into that narrative too and um so so first of all our subject emerges out of a time where where colonial narratives were the norm and that necessary hasn’t necessarily been challenged until very recently we’ve only really started to challenge these things from the 1980s onwards and then there’s the fact that race the archaeology has been used both explicitly and implicitly to bolster racist and colonial narratives about the past it’s been used explicitly in a whole series of different ways you can see it in anything you can see it through time so for example um the most well the most explicit example is of course the culture history work of christina in the early nine in the early 20th century and that work uh was then drawn upon by the uh nazis so this work was all about the aryan nation and it was uh drawn upon by the nazis to uh to justify uh their uh territorial expansions uh that that then led to to world war ii uh and that’s a terrible summary of that there is lots of literature about that but that’s probably one of the most explicit narratives but uh even today uh there is so much controversy for example around the use of the term anglo-saxon which has been um uh taken on by white supremacist groups and and those kind of debates are really demonstrate how how archaeology and the past is used within contemporary racist narratives but also the way we do archaeology in the present and the way we talk about the past in can implicitly perpetuate racist and colonial structures throughout archaeology’s history we’ve built arguments that are stemmed in the the supremacy of rational western thinking uh and uh kind of linear views that still hold us now

at the kind of top of the civilized tree um are really problematic and obviously based within colonialism and archaeology itself has been part of colonial practices both in the uk and abroad where uh the excavator the uh the excavators are excavators are often effectively treated as as very low paid laborers and the archaeologist stands by the side of the trench pondering um so uh so there’s a lot of controversy there as well and even now there is contemporary discrimination in the way that we practice and in the past that we tell and i’ll come on to to to those questions in a second so here’s my second question from the kahi society how has the re re reevaluation of race and ethnicity with the within the ancient world and pre-history impacted our understanding of archaeology so the really great thing is that since the 1980s at least we’ve started as a profession to to question uh race and ethnicity and to question are often uh you know implicit assumptions about things like the idea that the romans might all have been white for example and we started to question those and they have allowed us to start to tell more diverse pasts um and so i’ve put in the slide that i’m using but for those of you who are listening i’ll describe it uh something that has just been in the news this week so yorkshire museum have just um had launched an exhibition about ivory bangle lady and this is i’ll read the slide the remains of a roman woman known as the ivory bangle lady and have helped archaeologists discover that wealthy people from across the empire were living in 4th century york and so work that’s been done here has shown that ivory bangle lady was of african origin and actually there’s quite a lot of different studies that have shown that um people not just in the roman period but throughout prehistory weren’t always white so the work on cheddar man the adna work on cheddar man for instance uh has has shown that that cheddar man wasn’t white he was a so this is a a hunter-gatherer from i think nine ten thousand years ago we’re talking about here um and similarly people like beachy head woman who’s also a roman er again from the roman period uh again she was a woman uh from of north african descent so um there’s some really interesting uh examples that tell us that allow us to to tell a past that isn’t just a a white past that allow us to recognize that the past was had much greater diversity uh in terms of ethnicity and race than we uh than we have given it credit for so that’s brilliant that we can tell those more diverse stories and also the reevaluation of race and ethnicity has allowed us to theorize and critically consider how we conceptualize those concepts uh in the past to to critically analyze our behavior and to critically analyze our own whitewashing of the past effectively it’s also allowed us to develop archaeologies of colonialism so the kahi society question was framed as um how has race and ethnicity within the ancient world and pre-history impacted our understanding of archaeology but it’s really important to say that archaeology also operates as a historical discipline uh and um so historical archaeology is really important oh i’m really sorry i can hear my children screeching away in the past well in the pa in the background whilst i’m talking so i apologize if they’re if their happy whoops are uh filtering into this podcast um so uh so yeah so um so there is uh specific now archaeological studies of colonialism uh and the impacts of colonialism and the wonderful thing about archaeology is that if it allows us to hear the voices and see the actions of people who would have been written out of formal historical events so archaeology is so important for for picking apart and understanding uh the impact of colonialism across the world it’s also uh really sort of emphasized the importance of indigenous archaeologies of giving space to indigenous voices within archaeology and it’s prompted us to critically re-evaluate our practices and our needs to diversify the present as well so question three is how do you see the discipline of archaeology changing in relation to race and increasing diversity and i think it’s an interesting question because i just talked in the previous slide uh and uh in relation to the previous question about

how you know since the 1980s we have started to reevaluate our practices we evaluate our interpretations of the past and our our theorization of race and ethnicity and yet the this slide that i’m showing here for those of you who are listening in the podcast i’ll describe it um so this slide shows the results of the profiling the profession study undertaken by um landwood archaeology and this is a a study that looks at the the well it looks at the labor force in archaeology it started in 1997 and in this slide the statistics uh show the studies in 2002 2007 and 2012 in 2002 99 of archaeologists were white in 2007 99.3 of archaeologists were white and in 2012 99.2 of archaeologists were white so this is all archaeologists in the uk who are being paid out who are part of the archaeological workforce and that’s across all parts of the archaeology sector so from developer-led archaeology through to academia via local and national government archaeologists so unfortunately you can see that despite the fact that we’ve had this sort of sustained um postcolonial critique of archaeology of race and ethnicity in archaeology uh since the 1980s or a developing critique at least it hasn’t had a knock-on impact in into the the practice of archaeology archaeology is still mainly done by in in the uk by white archaeologists and the statistics globally are pretty um are pretty limited as well and that’s why i think question four uh that the kahi society have asked is the most important question what steps can we take to improve diversity within our discipline because there must be something going wrong if we’ve done all this work to theorize wraith and race and ethnicity in the past but our statistics show that most archaeologists remain white there’s a real problem uh going on here and i think um what’s wonderful is all the things that are happening at the moment particularly as a result of the black lives matter protests is that people are becoming much much more aware of the need to change both their individual practices and the structures within which they work and i’m and and i think that’s really exciting that’s making us change and and hopefully will make us reach more diverse audiences um here i’ve just put a list of things that you might want to do as an individual you can check your privilege and i think that’s such an important starting point we start with a whole series of assumptions that we that we we often don’t even aren’t even aware of that we need to unpackage um on the slide if you’re watching this i’ve put a qr code that will take you to the intersectional glam privilege quiz and if you’re just listening um i’ll give the link to the the society and hopefully they’ll be able to put that again in the comments for this um this podcast but you can also just google it it’s intersectional glam privilege quiz and this is a series of questions and it’s uh intersectional so they’re not just about race and ethnicity but that allow you to examine and critically think about your own privilege and um aside from taking this you can have a think about just generally your own practice microaggressions assumptions that you make are really essential so i think i mentioned in an earlier slide um but forgive me if i didn’t there there’s been a really interesting debate recently around the term bucket monkey or dig monkey and this is a term that has been thrown around willy-nilly by archaeologists for effectively to to talk uh in a very derogatory way about diggers and archaeologists of color have pointed out that this is a really racist term uh and it’s remarkable that it’s taken some time for that to be pointed out and for archaeologists to recognize that so those kind of unconscious biases those kind of microaggressions those are the kind of things to critically examine within your own practice and to check those those microaggressions i think the really important thing as well of course is to be a good ally if you’re a white archaeologist or a white classicist or a white agent historian and uh and and there is something that you can do to support uh people of color in your part of the sector then do it step in if you see those kind of micro aggressions and and and and call a halt to them

you can also ask your institution what they’re doing to diversify and decolonize so the university of manchester has uh decolonized uom who have a really clear manifesto uh about uh things that they would like the university of manchester to do uh to change and to decolonize our practice and i think they’re they’re doing amazing work and generally you can join or support the activism of organizations uh in your sector who are working for structural change so um on the slide that i’m showing i’ve put an image of museum detoxes logo and also the logo of the society for black archaeologists which is an american organization but very recently there’s just formed uh the european association for black and allied archaeologists as well and they’re just literally just forming so there’s something to keep an eye out for so you’ve got all of these amazing organizations and it’s really worth worth following them on social media supporting them in whatever way you can if you’re an archaeologist of color these are places that you can turn to for support and um and and whoever you are i really warmly recommend watching back the event that the society for black archaeologists did called archaeology in the time of black lives matter um which was held in june and it’s on their website um and it’s an american podcast so an american archaeologist so it’s a slightly different angle uh than our kind of experiences in the uk but only minor differences um really sort of uh slight differences about the kind of structures of the way archaeology works but ultimately the same levels of discrimination and prejudice are are there so so it’s a real eye-opener and i would really warmly recommend watching that i think the other things that we need to do collectively is push for structural change things like organizations having anonymous recruitment practices addressing discriminatory employment practices so for example having spaces for uh prayer not being so focused around a drinking culture having support networks so for example historic england have a series of support networks both for people of color and an lgbtq plus support network and a whole series of of of networks uh that uh that allow people who are are still in minority minority groups within these organizations to both uh feel supported but also to affect structural change as well and things like getting your organization to offer unconscious bias training to help uh to help archaeologists and or whoever we’re talking about in all people working in an organization to to critically examine their own practices and their own privileges is really important the chartered institute for archaeologists have made a very short 10 steps to diversifying your practice and if you’re looking at the powerpoint it’s in the slide if you’re not i’ll ask the society to put it in the link or you can just google it uh chartered institute for archaeologists uh 10 steps to diversify i think that will bring up the the document and i think more than anything the most important thing that we need to do as archaeologists as classicists as ancient historians is continue to tell diverse past and continue to tell intersectional past as well because often discrimination and uh and alienation around race and ethnicity don’t don’t exist in a vacuum um things like age gender uh sexuality all feed into to the kind of uh discrimination that people may face and also uh focusing on the the an intersectional view of the past allows us to tell much more diverse pasts and so just to finish i wanted to just talk very briefly about an organization that has just uh uh recently founded which is called idea uh it’s not it’s not really an organization it’s a collective of people of different organizations who are doing work on different areas of diversity in british archaeology so idea stands for inclusion diversity and equality in archaeology and heritage we just started setting ourselves up and then there was the everything with coronavirus so this is a kind of watch this space um but um the collective of people who are part of idea involve include both the the c for equality and diversity group prospect who are archaeologists uh the main union that represents field archaeologists the badger respect campaign mentoring women in archaeology and heritage trailblazers historic england enabled archaeology foundation museum detox and the british women archaeologist and i think the cba are also sort of developing their work and i think were sort of part of these kind of conversations if anything check out these organizations they have amazing resources uh in terms of

uh diversifying practice and in terms of supporting uh different areas of uh diversity and equality and inclusion across the profession and as a body we’re well as a group we’re hoping to sort of work together to share practice to amplify one another’s voices so i think i’m going to end on that kind of watch this space uh idea hopefully will be more than an idea in the future and even whilst it remains an idea please check out those amazing different organizations because they are brilliant and have some really fantastic resources and really fantastic support networks available thanks very much for having me now we’re going to pass you on to tanya from teach black studies uom to talk a little bit about their calls and what they as an organization want to achieve within the university hi guys my name is tanya and i am the founder of never taught in school an online platform which aims to promote afro-caribbean history and culture and i’m also the founder of teach black studies um an organization which aims to decolonize higher education so today i’ve come on here to talk about how we can implement more diversity and inclusion in higher education as well as give you a bit of background about what teach black studies does so teach black studies was founded over the summer by a group of current as well as recently graduated students from the university of manchester as black students were not too unfamiliar to the issues of discrimination racism and lack of diversity and representation in higher education and whilst these things have been happening for many many years even before we started our journey into university it was only until the recent black lives matter protest that we gained the confidence and decided to come together and actually do something about it so when we first started at tbsum we had very specific campaign goals directed towards the university of manchester so our aims of that campaign was firstly to implement a race relations short course highlighting britain’s role in the slave trade colonialism and how that impacts our society today secondly we want to implement more black studies modules and courses available new cell for students of varying disciplines our third aim something we can confirm we’ve actually just achieved is to be included in the development of the school of art language and cultures new degree program on race and ethnic studies which hopefully will be launched in the next few years and our last aim was to make sure that the university of manchester across the board implements black and minority studies within their degree programmes for example if you were to study law looking at racism within the criminal justice system or for example medicine and looking at health disparities between different ethnic groups so now that tbs has been running for the last few months we have recognized that we’ve needed to expand our services beyond our campaign aims for example we’ve helped students make complaints when facing racial and discriminatory issues signposted them to mental health and wellbeing services specific to their demographic as well as acting as intermediaries for students raising concerns about the inclusivity of their curriculum and courses so now that i’ve given you some background on teach black studies i’m going to talk a little bit more about how the discipline of history classics and archaeology can implement simple changes to be more diverse and inclusive one way that i feel these disciplines need to change is by diversifying their areas of study and general curriculum that they have in higher education institutions i’ve always been a fan of history and learning about these ancient worlds and whilst i think it’s amazing that we learn about the romans and the greeks who have influenced so much of our modern society now there are many many kingdoms and ancient places that we’ve forgotten about and that i’ve been neglected over the time for example it wasn’t until i reached university that i learned about complex and amazing societies on the african continent such as the kingdom of aksum or kush in this day and age it’s time that we expand our knowledge outside of eurocentricism because when minoritized people see themselves reflected in this subject content it becomes so much more increasingly interesting to them and this causes a trickle effect the more diverse the people that are interested in these disciplines the more diverse the practitioners of the likes of history archaeology classics and whatever it might be become and what’s actually so amazing about having more academics from this discipline from a diverse background is that you start to see their interests being reflected in the papers that are published and the documentaries and the films that are made and some of these neglected kingdoms and areas such as sub-saharan africa become more and more into the spotlight and become less forgotten and finally if you want to join our campaign or our organization you can drop us a dm on our instagram page at teachbackstudies.uom thank you so much guys i’ve really enjoyed talking about diversity and inclusion in the distance of history

classics archaeology lastly we’re going to hear from dr roberta matza about how race is intertwined with our discipline how we can make improvements to the study of classics ancient history and paprology hello i am roberta matza i’m a lecturer in a greek roman material culture and the papyrologists at the university of manchester my area of expertise is mainly papyri and egypt under the ptolemaic and roman and byzantine empires so a period in the history of egypt that has to do with you know what in the european mind is ancient history and classics those papaya that i study in particular are written in greek ancient greeks so one of the two key languages in the discipline and were brought back well we’re brought back to europe from egypt during a very problematic and controversial period in the history of europe and more broadly the word the era of the so-called you know european empires the age during which especially nations like the united kingdom and france and others who were trying to establish their power over other countries and continents and africa has been you know terribly affected by that history seems a long time so the objects of my discipline are deeply rooted in a very questionable you know period of european history and more broadly are a tangible somehow heritage of those imbalances of power and wealth that have characterized our um recent uh history how does a race have to do with all of these um this is of course a highly problematic concept and and uh term um race does not exist except in the mind of those who apply this marker of identity to different groups um in order to make sense of the world and to establish all also hierarchies in other words so for sure uh black uh the idea of blackness and black people uh has been played very much in that sort of exclusion and you know hierarchy i was uh mentioned i was mentioning before so my discipline has to do with this story because actually these papays were brought back for instance by archaeologists like flinders p3 that we’re deeply involved in discussions about race and the eugenics at the time papyrologist and clashes have struggled with their past in the sense that generations and generations of us have been educated into a narrative of you know classics and papyrology and archaeology to as a narrative of amazing discovery and progress uh so we have struggled and we are still struggling in recognizing our past the history from where we come i think that this is very important and it is also very important for someone like me

who is who comes actually from europe and belongs at some extent to that narrative i was educated in that narrative to say to others let’s say the egyptians egyptians who uh live in egypt now and think about their history how to deal with their own history i’m convinced that egyptians have very precise ideas and also very different ideas about their past and in particular the past that section of the past that i i study it is for them you know to decide how perhaps uh to study papyri written in greek and so forth so on my task as a scholar who come from that other background is has more to do with taking responsibility right in writing another narrative and also changing practices accordingly this is a huge challenge that i think we must undertake race of course and also classics are thought of are conceptualized and are played in different ways depending on the environment in which you grew up as i was it is clear i’m italian and for italians for instance race has been a sort of taboo at least for those of my generations we were still very much in shock for the way race was enacted during the fascist period and those in the past world war ii period there has been always a sort of avoidance of dealing with the the word even the word race nobody of us would have ever said to someone uh pose for instance to someone a question like a which is your race it’s unthinkable because of you know these um preoccupations with the the the way we have uh used this term in our uh fascist past the tradition of course the anglo-saxon tradition is very different and to me for instance it came as a shock i always tell this story that when i first went to the us for work in about 15 or 20 20 years ago almost and i had to fill a form in which i was asked which was my race and that for me was just a shock for the kind of question and also for the few possibilities that i was given in which i seemed not to find any description that i would have applied to my wrist i was thinking perhaps hispanic or i don’t know i was really in trouble when someone came to my rescue and explained to me that i was a caucasian and that was a shock for me because in my narrative in the way you know in the story of identity and race i was uh told as child and someone who was educated in italy i was a roman and the caucasian were the barbarians who actually came to destroy our civilization so this is a good example of how you know the concept of race can be played differently uh depending on the environment and actually this is a history lesson that is really this is the uh the proof that race does not exist what exists is a system that any society somehow events in order

to make sense of the world and create hierarchies so the hierarchy is that our narratives have created in the 19th century and also the 20th were narratives where of course white people from a certain background where the um we’re bearing the heritage of you know greece and rome and these splendid civilizations and in that respect classics has these birds burden of a past that now um does not make any sense anymore what can we do uh in order to make our discipline more open and um inclusive of different uh groups of people coming from different countries from different backgrounds and with different uh you know what personal uh ability i mean to have access to uh education this is a political topic of course and i think that the first steps in order to make classics and papyrology more inclusive would be for government and education system national education system to put much more money on accessibility so schools should be paid by the state in my opinion and that would give more possibility for kids and people from different backgrounds to uh get access for instance two disciplines like mine papayology and classics as an intellectual i think that our duty is is to be um to be more capable of making our discipline inclusive and appealing to the very many people with different backgrounds how i think that it is again a hard task that can be achieved only with more pluralism for instance and the ability to be really able uh to listen at other people so for instance in the the whole um discussion that is now taking place also in the academy uh what i think is still lacking is the ability to address topics like race and inequality without raising our voices too much we should be more able to listen at other opinions this said of course some of the racist tones that we have um listen that mo most recently are absolutely unacceptable as another podcast would like to thank everyone that has contributed to this episode and i sent in some amazing and informative videos that will hopefully inform people watching about some of the obstacles facing people of color with vincahi and the steps we must take to improve if anyone would like to share their thoughts in this podcast i would like to add anything you can get in touch via our social media pages um society or you can email kaha.socialmediaofficer gmail.com we’ll be posting lots of content regarding the episode and re-sharing some really important posts from teach black studies thanks everyone for watching please feel free to get in touch and thanks again to

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