Race and Racism (in the world of Classics)

I am wondering how you all feel about Benjamin Isaac’s book, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, which he says is actually about “proto-racism,” as he puts it, since the pseudo-science of modern racism was not present in antiquity. The author doesn’t address Africans or Black people nor does he address artistic sources.
Using his book and other sources, classicists are now teaching courses on Race and Racism in Antiquity.
We don’t have textual sources in the Egyptian language that could contribute to this conversation. But in the wrong hands, someone might extend Isaac’s argument to Egyptian art and try to argue that racism is expressed there.
Is this a problem for us that classicists are saying that racism (or “proto-racism”) existed in the Greco-Roman world?

One Reply to “Race and Racism (in the world of Classics)”

  1. I am not familiar with the book you reference. I can say that having recently read Heliodorus’ Aethiopica in its entirety, that I saw stark examples of Greek racism, or perhaps better said, xenophobia throughout that text. Reading that certainly shook me from my former exclusive focus on the positive things that the ancient Greeks said about Egypt and Kush/Aethiopia. I was recently made aware that there is a graduate student at Brown University (Christian Cox) who is writing his dissertation on racism in the ancient world. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on that dissertation!

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