Sarah Derbew

Guest Appearances

October 12, 2022

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 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

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