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Pharos

Doing Justice to the Classics

Mahindra Lecture: Classical Athens and Contemporary White Ethnonationalism

On April 27th, 2021, Pharos director Curtis Dozier delivered a lecture entitled “Classical Athens and Contemporary White Ethnonationalism” at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. A video of that lecture, including the extensive Question and Answer period, is now available at the Harvard Classics Department’s webpage.


The host’s description of the lecture:

Professor Curtis Dozier gave a paper “Classical Athens and Contemporary White Ethnonationalism” on April 27, 2021 as part of the Mahindra Humanities Seminar “Classical Traditions” and as the second installment of a number of ongoing presentations on treating the Classics in the context of the rise of extreme forms nationalism and racism. Professor Dozier is Director of the website “Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics,” which since 2017 has documented examples of appropriations of Greco-Roman antiquity by hate groups. The talk was recorded and is available for viewing on YouTube.

The highly enlightening talk was followed by lively discussion. It focused on invocations of antiquity that show considerably more depth than those observed, for example, in the January 6th, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. These examples, from an online ecosystem that specialists who work on white ethnonationalism have defined as “highbrow white nationalism” or the “intellectual radical right,” pose a special challenge to historians because the arguments they make about antiquity combine racist politics with attitudes toward the ancient past that are not always easy to label “extremist;” indeed, many of their ideas about ancient Athens bear an uncomfortable similarity to idealizations of that city-state that were developed by influential European intellectuals in the nineteenth and earlier centuries, and that, to some extent, continue to influence perceptions of Classical Athens in the present day. This presentation will constitute a chapter in a forthcoming monograph on the subject of Greco-Roman antiquity in contemporary white ethnonationalism.

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