October 12, 2022

EP. 286 — How Diverse Was The Ancient Mediterranean? with Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey

This week, we’re traveling back to one of our favorite sites for curiosity: the ancient Mediterranean. Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey join Jonathan to discuss how people across the region experienced cultural diversity; how they related to—and set themselves apart from—their neighbors; and what it looks like to approach the ancient past on its own terms rather than filtered through contemporary assumptions.

Sarah Derbew is an assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University. She writes, teaches, and speaks widely about ancient Greece’s literary and visual heritage, considering its representations of black people that nimbly provoke – and cut through – modern hierarchies.

You can follow her on Twitter @BlackAntiquity, and at www.sarahderbew.com. Her new book Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity is out now, and you can purchase it using the coupon code UBGA2022.


Nandini Pandey is an associate professor of classics at Johns Hopkins University working to diversify our study of the ancient world and advocate for historically underrepresented students and scholars. She writes, teaches, and speaks on Roman culture, Latin literature, ancient race and identity, and the ways that all of these have shaped and can continue to speak to modern societies across the world. Her first book was about The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome; she’s currently writing a second book on Roman diversity for Princeton University Press and a third, for Yale, on how classics can enrich our modern lives.


You can follow her on Twitter @global_classics.

Want to learn more about race in classical antiquity? Professor Pandey recommends Rebecca Futo Kennedy’s writing.


Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.


Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.


Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.


Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our associate producer is Zahra Crim. Our editor is Andrew Carson.


Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to TheQuinCat.com.


Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. And this week’s episode is more special than usual because we have not one but two experts. Welcome to the show, Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey, where I ask them: how did they think about diversity in the Ancient Mediterranean? Welcome to Getting Curious. Have we got an episode for you. We’re going into the time machine and you know there’s no place I love to go more than that. So you know on our show, we’ve learned that we can’t apply our contemporary understandings of gender, sexuality, and race to the past. Today, we’re going back to Greco-Roman antiquity to learn more about ancient understandings of diversity. Our guests are amazing. I’m so excited that

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