Pasts Imperfect (4.14.22)
Covid Two Years On, 3D scanning the Parthenon, and More
This week, Nandini Pandey discusses COVID-19 and its impact on those teaching the ancient world, over two years after the start of the pandemic. Then, the British Museum refuses to allow a 3D scan, bioarchaeology at the ancient Nubian site of Tombos, what Hesiod and Joan Didion have in common, and more.
“Classics” Two Years Later: Nandini Pandey Gathers Updates (Nandini Pandey)
In April 2020, I gathered scholars’ predictions on “classics” after the pandemic. Needless to say, the exercise was premature. Many of us still struggle daily with COVID consequences like daycare closures and changing public health and travel restrictions. Other consequences are longer-term, less predictable, yet predictably unequal along racial, gender, and other lines.
In this week’s SCS blog, “Two Years Later: “Classics” after Coronavirus?” I asked for updates from original contributors and others who’ve emerged as leaders during the pandemic. How have the past two years shaped their lives and senses of possibility? Shelley Haley, Ky Merkley, Michael K. Okyere Asante, Ximing Lu, Mira Seo, the London Classicists of Colour, Joel Christensen, and Scott Lepisto weighed in. Their updates are alternately sobering, thought-provoking, and inspiring, but all in their way are calls to action.
Some contributors report continued discrimination in new digital forms or rising obstacles to mental health and mobility. Others developed new ways of connecting and supporting people marginalized within academia. Dreams of academic employment have evaporated, one international global antiquities program is shuttering, and one original contributor, high school Latin teacher Michelle Bayouth, is now battling the closure of her program at Madison West. For some, closed doors have opened windows. The pandemic has brought unexpected opportunities to recalibrate life, work, and purpose. But for others, the future remains uncertain. And it’s going take a village to keep it bright.
Read contributors’ updates here, add your own in the comments, and remember — the Women’s Classical Caucus, the Society for Classical Studies, and advocacy groups founded by blog contributors (among others) welcome your aid in helping vulnerable scholars through hardships that, two years on, show no sign of ending.
And just a reminder:
Public Scholarship on the Web
In Hyperallergic, Cassie Packard reports that the British Museum has denied the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) ‘s request for a digital scan of a metope from the Parthenon’s south façade. The IDA had hoped to make a 3D scan in the same manner they did for the Arch of Palmyra.
Although permission had been denied, a team from the IDA brought an iPad-sized scanner to the British Museum and began to make scans. The museum said in a statement at the time that it “was deeply concerned to hear suggestions that unauthorized scanning took place in our galleries,” declaring the move a “breach of our visitor regulations.”
We fully adhered to the museum visitor guidelines, which seem to have been drafted to accommodate 3D scans,” Michel said.
Note that the “Guerrilla photogrammetrist and shadow IT raconteur” Daniel Pett has an impressive number of 3D models from the British Museum up on Sketchfab already.
At JSTOR Daily, the latest Pasts Present column is written by Richard H Armstrong. From Hesiod to Joan Didion, Armstrong explores the daily stories we tell ourselves in order to live. As the pandemic stretches on, how do we think and write about our works and days?
In The Conversation, anthropologist and bioarchaeologist Michele R. Buzon discusses the archaeological site of Tombos in northern Sudan and her work examining the skeletal and dental remains of the ancient Nubian community there. Additionally, she discusses her work with the Tombos excavation team and the local community:
A recent lecture and discussion that my Sudanese colleague, Remah Abdelrahim Kabashi Ahmed, and I held for the women of Tombos showed us how curious they are about the past as well as the present. Remah, who is training in bioarchaeology, and I answered questions such as: What kind of medicine did people use then? How old was the baby at death? Why did people put a bed and jewelry in their tomb? They notice the use of beds in ancient burials that look similar to those carved in recent times. They ask if we as women find the work physically difficult.
For more on ancient Nubia, see the work of Africanists like Solange Ashby, who will be giving the ASOR 2022 plenary in Boston on November 16, 2022.
In the “Dissertation Spotlight” section of Ancient Jew Review, Marshall Cunningham discusses Judaean identity and diaspora.
On a side note as Passover approaches: Please do not throw a “Christian Seder.”
Conferences, Lectures, and Keynotes of Interest
From April 21-22, 2022, the “Crossing Frontiers: the Evidence of Roman Coin Hoards” conference kicks off online. This conference is organized by the Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire project and has been generously funded by the Augustus Foundation. Sign up for what promises to be an important study of coin hoards both within the Roman Empire and in frontier zones.
At Everyday Orientalism, there will be an online roundtable to discuss characterizations of “civilization” on Apr. 21, 2022 from 10-11:30am Toronto-time. Join guests Adam Benkato, Katherine Blouin, Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Suleyman Dost, and Heba Mostafa to discuss questions such as: What are the ancient roots of the notion of “civilization”? How does the reality of the period spanning from the so-called ‘Classical’ past to the early Islamic period disrupt this narrative? This event is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto’s Institute of Islamic Studies.
New Online Journal Issues @YaleClassicsLib
Colin is on paternity leave for the month of April. We celebrate and respect this. Congratulations and this section will return in May!
The Public Books section "Antiquities" continues to take pitches for articles to be published in 2022. You can pitch to our “Pasts Imperfect” column at the LA Review of Books using this form and to the new JSTOR column here. Thanks for reading!
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