#EOTalks 6: Teaching Race and Ethnicity in the Greco-Roman World by Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Jackie Murray

#EOTalks 6: Teaching Race and Ethnicity in the Greco-Roman World by Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Jackie Murray

Cover picture: Reconstruction of the continents of the world according to Herodotus

Join us on zoom on August 26th for the sixth of our 2020 #EOTalks series! This event will feature Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Jackie Murray, who will talk about their respective approaches to and experiences of teaching race and ethnicity in the Greco-Roman world.

#EOTalks 6

You can also watch the event on facebook

The speakers have generously accepted to make their definition slides available in open access (should you use this material in your classroom, do make sure to give them due credit). You can acces them here:


Jackie Murray and Rebecca Futo Kennedy discuss their experiences teaching about race and ethnicity in the Greco-Roman world and the reception of these ideas in modern constructions of race. The conversation includes a short overview of their different approaches to teaching the material and what they mean by the terms “race” and “ethnicity”. They also address some of the problems one might face in the classroom surrounding ideas of biorace and other forms of white supremacism, and reflect upon the differences between teaching these courses as faculty racialized differently as White and Black. Drs. Murray and Kennedy are currently in the development stage of a co-authored textbook on understanding race, ethnicity, and racism in antiquity and Classics for Routledge. 


Aug. 26th 2020, 1pm Toronto time = 10am San Francisco time = 6pm London time = 7pm Cairo time = 10pm Mumbai time = Aug. 27th 1am Singapore time and 3am Sydney time. The whole event shall last about 1:30 hour (talk followed by q&a)


Rebecca Futo Kennedy is an ancient historian and Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies at Denison University (OH, USA). Her teaching and research focuses on histories of Greeks and Romans in their Mediterranean contexts, immigration, especially of women, in the ancient Medirterraenan and ideas of race and ethnicity in antiquity and their uses in the construction of modern race, particularly scientific racism, the ‘Western Civilization” narrative, and Classicizing architecture (with some Athenian tragedy/Aeschylus on the side as well). She is the author, among other things, of Immigrant Women in Athens (2014), and co-editor of Identity and the Environment in The CLassical and Medieval Worlds (2016, with M.Jones-Lewis). She is also the co-author and translator of Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World (2013) with CS Roy and ML Goldman. She is currently working on a book for Johns Hopkins University Press on ancient identities and modern White supremacist identity politics and has articles forthcoming on race and the metic in ancient Athens and on White supremacist tropes in ancient Greek history. She also runs a blog, Classics and the Intersections, which includes links to teaching materials (syllabi, essays, etc), an extensive bibliography, and essays on her research into race and ethnicity, immigration, and modern white supremacism.

Jackie Murray is Associate Professor of Classics in the Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department at the University of Kentucky. Her primary research area is Hellenistic Poetry, its reception of Archaic Greek poetry and its influence on Latin and Imperial Greek Literature. Her secondary area is Race and the Classics, especially the reception of Classics in African American and Afro-Caribbean literature. She has published and forthcoming several important articles on various aspects of Hellenistic Poetry and Race in Classical literature. She is currently finishing a monograph on Apollonius’ Argonautica, Destroyer of Worlds: Apollonius’ Argonautica and the Poetics of Controversy for Harvard University Press, and working on two others, one on the Argonautica as a calendar poem and the second of Racecraft in Greek and Roman Epic from Homer to Vergil, co-editing a commentary on Book 1 of the Argonautica with Annette Harder, co-authoring a mythology textbook for Thames and Hudson with Joel Christensen and Serena Witke and co-authoring a book on the Racecraft and Celluloid Classical World with Anja Bettenworth. With Ishion Hutchenson and Sasha-Mae Eccleston she is working on Patois Iliad, a Jamaican adaptation of Homer’s epic.

Suggested Bibliography

Titles mentioned during the talk that are not listed below or in the slides (see downloadable link above)

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s 2018 The Lies that Bind.

Alastair Bonnet’s work on whiteness: full list here

Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s 2019 Stony the Road.

Geraldine Heng’s 2018 The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages.

Cord Whitaker’s 2019 Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-Thinking.

Edited volume What White Looks Like, edited by George Yancy (2004).

Classics at intersections resources can be found here.

on Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity

Dee, J. (2004) “Black Odysseus, White Caesar: When Did ‘White People’ Become ‘White’?” Classical Journal 99: 157–67.

Dench, E.(2005) Romulus’ Asylum: Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fredrickson, G. (2002) “Religion and the Invention of Racism” in Racism: A Short History. Princeton. p. 15-48.

Hall, J. (1997) Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kennedy, RF, CS Roy, and ML Goldman (2013) Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World: An Anthology of Primary Sources. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Quinn, J. (2018) In Search of the Phoenicians. Princeton University Press.

Paired: Isaac, B. (2006) “Proto-racism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity.” World Archaeology 38: 32-47 and Gruen, E. (2013) “Did Ancient Identity Depend On Ethnicity? A Preliminary Probe.” Phoenix 67: 1-22.

Pre-Pub versions available upon request: Kennedy “Race and the Athenian Metic Re-Visioned”; Murray “Race and Sexuality: Racecraft in the Odyssey.”

On Black Classicisms and the History of Classics and White Supremacism

Barnard, John Levi (2017). Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism and American Imperial Culture. Oxford UP, 2017

Challis, D. (2013) The Archaeology of Race: The Eugenic Ideas of Francis Galton and Flinders Petrie. Bloomsbury Press.

Cook, William W., James Tatum, (2010). African American Writers and Classical Tradition. University of Chicago Press.

Hairston, E.A. (2016) The Ebony Column: Classics, Civilization, and the African American Reclamation of the West. University of Tennessee. 

Marchand, S. (2003) Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1970. Princeton University Press. 

Rankine, P. (2006) Ulysses in Black: Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature. University of Wisconsin Press.

Richard, C. (2009) The Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States. Harvard University Press. 

Richard, C. (1995). The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment. Harvard University Press.

Roche, H. and K. Demetriou, eds. (2018) Brill’s Companios to the Classics, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany. Brill Academic Press.

Varto, E, ed. (2018) Brill’s Companion to Classics and Early Anthropology. Brill Academic Press.

Winterer, C. (2002) The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life 1780-1910. Johns Hopkins University Press. 

Pre-Pub version available upon request: ““‘Western Civilization’, White Supremacism and the Myth of a White Ancient Greece” for Polarized Pasts, edited by Elisabeth Niklasson.

on Histories of Race in the United States

UNESCO Statements on Race (UNESCO Digital Library)

Anderson, J.D. (1988) The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. UNC Press.

Baradaran, M. (2019) The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth. Belknap Press.

Bonnet, A. (2004) The Idea of the West: Culture, Politics and History. Red Globe Press. 

Domby, A. (2020) The False Cause: Fraud, Fabrication, and White Supremacy in Confederate Memory. University of Virginia Press.

Dunbar-Oritz, R. (2014) An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Beacon Press.

Kendi, I.X. (2016) Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Bold Type Books. 

Lopez, I.H. (1996/2006) White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York University Press.

Roberts, D. (2011) Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century. The New Press.

Rothstein, R. (2017) The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Liveright. 

Rutherford, A. (2016) A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. The Experiment Publishing.

Saini, A. (2019) Superior: The Return of Race Science. Beacon Press.

on Critical Race

Allen, D. (2016) Equality and Education. University of Chicago Press.

Appiah, K.A. (2018) The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity. Liveright.

Baldwin, J. (1998) [1984] “On Being White and Other Lies” in Black on White, ed. by D. Roediger. Schocken Books.

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003) Race without Racism: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Rowan and Littlefield.

Du Bois, WEB. (1903) The Souls of Black Folk

Fields, K. and B. Fields (2013) Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life. Verso. 

Reed, A. Jr. (2000) “Skin Deep” in Class notes : posing as politics and other thoughts on the American scene. New Press. p. 139-143.

Sheth, F. (2009) Towards a Political Philosophy of Race. SUNY Press.

Sidanius, J. and F. Pratto (2001). Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression. Cambridge University Press.


We recommend webcaptioner.com (using Google Chrome as a browser) or the smartphone app LiveTranscribe for closed captioning during the event. Notes from each of the speakers can be provided before the event for those who need it to follow along. Please get in touch with us if you have any concerns about accessibility. The session will be recorded and made available in the future.

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