Wonder how male & Eurocentric your Antiquity-related field is? Try the committee test!

Wonder how male & Eurocentric your Antiquity-related field is? Try the committee test!

On February 10, Lisa Lodwick posted the following thread on Twitter:

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As I write these lines, some scholars have already started to take action and write to the conference organizers and the Associazione Internazionale di Archeologica Classica to complain. It will be interesting to see if some of the scheduled keynote speakers will take on Josephine Quinn‘s suggestion to “pull out in protest”.

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Capture d_écran 2018-02-13 à 10.48.26

While Lisa Lodwick and Josephine Quinn’s criticism highlights gender imbalances, it made me think of a different yet comparable experience I had a couple of years ago. When preparing a paper for the 2016 International Congress of Papyrologists, I compiled the data related to the country of origin and affiliation of all the committee members, Vice-Presidents, and Presidents the AIP had since its inception in 1930. To my surprise, the list did not include a single scholar who was not white. Thus, although the overwhelming majority of the papyri that have come to us were found in Egypt, although there are Egyptian papyrologists, and although Arabic papyrology is now a blossoming sub-field within the discipline, Egyptians have to this day been completely absent from the executive apparatus of the Association.

When it comes to gender balance and diversity, the field of Classics and the sub-fields that sprouted from it remain among the most conservative ones within the Humanities. The data provided in Lisa Lodwick’s tweet can no doubt be linked to broader issues surrounding gender inequalities among “Classical” archaeologists. Yet a quick look at the Congress of Classical Archaeology website also shows that just as all committee members/keynote speakers are male, so do they all “happen” to be of European descent and affiliated to ‘western’ institutions. More still, apart from Canada, all keynote speakers work in one of only five western European countries, all of which have a recent or ongoing colonial history – UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands. Can we just pause and appreciate how ironic it is that the list does not even include a Greek or an Italian scholar?

That made me wonder: How do things look among Classically-related international associations? And what about Egyptology and Coptic Studies, fields I am sometimes, depending on who I speak with, included in[1]? Are women better represented? And what about academics from non-western institutions, and notably those located in countries that were once part of the so-called ‘Classical’ world (especially considering that over half of that Classical world at large is actually located outside the boundaries of western Europe)? I’ll let the following table speak for itself. But before doing so, I’ll only say this: The usual (most often reductive, patronizing, and Orientalist) excuses thrown at those who lament the lack of diversity in the field are part of the problem. As those of us who took part in Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram’s recent The Endless Knot podcasts repeatedly say, when it comes to dealing with their colonial legacies, Classics and its related sub-fields still have an awful lot of catching up to do in order to get a passing grade.


President Vice-President Committee members[2] Female committee members (%) Committee members not affiliated to a ‘western’[3] institution (%)
FIEC (Classical Studies Associations) M F 10 5 (50%) 0 (%)
AIAC (Classical Archaeology M F 18 8 (44%) 0 (0%)
AIP (Papyrology) F M 19 6 (32%) 0 (0%)
SIEGL (Greek and Latin Epigraphy) F M 19 6 (32%) 0 (0%)
IAE (Egyptology) M F 21 11 (52%) 4 (19%)[4]
IACS (coptic Studies)[5] M F (President elect) 10 5 (50%) 0 (0%)

Table: Gender and diversity in the current committees of Antiquity-related international associations

Katherine Blouin, @isisnaucratis

[1] For many colleagues specializing on Pharaonic Egypt, I am not an Egyptologist. Yet, for many Classicist colleagues, the fact that my research focuses on Egypt makes me an Egyptologist(ish).

[2] Includes President, Vice-President, Treasurer, etc. but excludes honorary members.

[3] That is not affiliated to a European, North American or Australasian institution.

[4] That is 3 from Egypt, 1 from Israel.

[5] I thank Malcolm Choat for this update. It corresponds to the latest board composition, which is not available yet on the IACS website.


3 thoughts on “Wonder how male & Eurocentric your Antiquity-related field is? Try the committee test!

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