The Future of the Past: Rethinking Legacies of Injustice in Ancient Studies

In recent years, the academy has begun to reckon with systems of inquiry that covertly or overtly favor the interests of dominant groups. Such is the case for the study of antiquity, as well. The UMN Department of Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures—representing a wide variety of disciplines in ancient studies—is in a distinctive position to advance the discussion for our department and for our disciplines. CNRC will host a series of conversations with small groups of scholars from around the country and world to discuss three issues.

  1. The systems of power embedded in our histories of our fields that have favored particular dominant perspectives (most prominently, white, cisgender, heterosexual male; Western European/imperialist; and Christian-influenced).
  2. How these systems are perpetuated today in undergraduate and graduate education and our scholarship.
  3. How we can change our systems and practices to remove barriers for under-represented individuals and worldviews and to engage in more just ways of educating our students and of performing our research.

The discipline-specific discussions will address issues 1 and 2, and the final mini-conference will discuss issue 3.

We want to move beyond the platitudes currently ringing through society, in order to reimagine our future and change how we at UMN study the past. We want to bring into being a more socially just academy that can positively influence its greater socio-political context. Details forthcoming.

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