Antiquity in the Americas broadly aims to explore the presence and influence of both classical antiquity and “antiquity” more generally in the Americas (understood to include North and South America, including Latin America, and the Caribbean) through interdisciplinarity and the fostering of new institutional and personal contacts at universities throughout this region. We see the events we organize pursuing this agenda through four categories: new, inter-institutional relationships, equity and education, new disciplinary configurations, and ‘the Americas’.
I. New Institutional Relationships
Mainstream (and by this we refer to the perspective from the United States in which Antiquity in the Americas' founders are based) academic scholarship on Classics has for centuries centered on institutions based in Europe and North America and has privileged English, French, German, and Italian as the (only) languages of scholarly discourse. Conferences, workshops, and collaborations are often organized to privilege these locales and languages.
It has been recognized for some time that this limitation to what is considered both acceptable and indeed legitimate in the field of Classics is founded on out-of-date conceptions about what academia should look like and where it should be based. A general acknowledgement of this problem, however, is not enough, and it will require real (intellectual, monetary, organizational) effort to change the landscape of this discipline and of academic discourse as it is currently conceived. Antiquity in the Americas is dedicated to promoting substantial change in these conceptions by building a network of scholars working across the American continents and by especially highlighting the work of those working in Spanish and in Latinx traditions.
We also believe that the specific geographical, educational, and cultural situatedness/positionality that each community and its members possesses is worth explicit identification and interrogation. This is because we believe that each environment has a role in developing a particular lens through which academic work is produced, and that, when understood, these unique lenses of situatedness can enrich the scholarship that is created. It is our hope that in this familiarization and collaboration with colleagues throughout the Americas, we may tease apart which elements of our situatedness we share, and which are distinct from each other, so that perhaps together we come to a different understanding of what it means to do Classics scholarship in the Americas.
It is also our belief that academic institutions and scholars based in the United States have a unique responsibility to seek out and support these relationships.
II. Equity and Education
a. Graduate Student Empowerment (creating educational paths)
One of the limitations that graduate students and early career (read: non-tenured) scholars face when working on the topics in which this group is interested is the following: work rooted in what is generally considered “reception” or work that is not firmly limited to pre-established sub-disciplines like literature, history, or philosophy may not be taken into account when evaluating the value of these scholars in their respective fields. Work of this kind may not be well received during a tenure review, for example, and graduate students are often encouraged to work on more traditional dissertations to achieve better results on the job market. Creating a network for Antiquity in the Americas would permit not only general support for graduates and early career scholars with this interest but also provide opportunities and pathways for those scholars to seriously pursue education and research on these topics from within Classics and related departments.
An extension of our commitment to graduate empowerment is a commitment to equity more broadly. Our intellectual and scholarly work aims to center the importance of bodies--and in particular, the formative power of the many contexts outside the academy they inhabit--to scholarly work. To that end, we hope, in planning events, to be particularly attentive to the barriers of access that, in deciding what bodies can or cannot be in a room, have given shape to our conversations. These barriers include questions of financial resources, existing scholarly networks, and immigration policies; on a more micro level, but just as vitally, they include the planning of event logistics, which should be decided with accessibility standards in mind.
III. New Disciplinary Configurations
The academic discipline known as Classics has a tendency to ally itself with a select group of other disciplines in the academy in the United States: for example, departments like Philosophy and Archaeology. While such interdisciplinary partnerships are valuable and lead to important research, we believe that the perspective that this group and its events would take would allow for collaborations with a wider variety of departments and disciplines. In particular, our focus on the two American continents and their engagement with both classical antiquity and “antiquity” more broadly would allow for partnerships with departments like Anthropology, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Spanish, which are more rarely brought into conversation with Classics as such.
With this in mind, we believe that events organized under Antiquity in the Americas would allow both for the expansion and/or temporary erasure of disciplinary boundaries as they are traditionally drawn while retaining a clear locus of investigation. The general goals and scope of this collaboration allow for conversations across lines generally made by considerations such as geography, time period, language, and culture in a way that can still remain mutually intelligible and productive.
IV. ‘The Americas’
This project takes as its heart not any particular national tradition of Classics but what common themes emerge when we consider Classics in the Americas in general--or reconsider national differences against the background of Classics in the Americas: rather than in light of similarities and differences from European traditions of classical learning. We envision this commitment playing out in two ways:
1) In the institutional partnerships we hope to seek out: with partner institutions in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Canada. Some of the broader concerns that motivate this selection of partners are laid out in Section I.
2) In the academic framework that we bring to bear in conferences, workshops, and events: we hope to investigate how different approaches--which might include: postcolonial theory, work attentive to the geographic distance of the Americas from Greco-Roman antiquity, work in comparative (between Greco-Roman and indigenous) antiquities, or simply the study of topics in the Americas by graduate students in Classics--help make sense of some of the particular stakes of the study of Antiquity in the Americas. In seeking out these questions, we are motivated by a conviction both that Classical Antiquity has shaped the ways that American nature, land, body and experience is conceived and understood (often supplanting other models), but more importantly that it is possible, and critical, to recover those alternate models: either in order to discuss them on their own terms or to bring them into dialogue on more equal terms with the literature, philosophy, and history of Classical Antiquity.