1st LCWA World Affairs Colloquia Series

On December 1st the LCWA hosted the first of its School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs Colloquia Series. Dr. Eugene Rumer, the Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, presented his thought-provoking talk, “Russia on the World Stage for the Next Four Years” to a full auditorium. Dr. Rumer discussed Russia’s foreign policy, its position on the world stage and the possible shape of US-Russian relations over the next four years. The Science Auditorium in the School of Science & Mathematics was packed full of students, faculty, staff and members of the community  eager to hear Dr. Rumer’s lecture.

russia-on-the-world-stage-for-the-next-four-years

James Newhard on Chipped Stone

Congratulations to Professor Jim Newhard. His book chapter “A survey of chipped stone resources and production in the Argolid” has been published in Lithics Past and Present: Perspectives on Chipped Stone Studies in Greece (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 144) 141-158.

“This study investigates the acquisition, production and distribution patterns of chert in the Bronze Age Argolid. Specific focus is placed on the identification of lithic resources which would have provided usable cherts to Argive settlements … The movement of chert from resource acquisition to final location of manufacture and deposition highlights patterns of subsistence, transport and economy that often operate outside the purview of societal elites.”

Andrew Alwine Publishes on Patronage

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Alwine, whose article “Freedom and Patronage in the Athenian Democracy” just appeared (Journal of Hellenic Studies 136 [2016] 1-17).

To ask a question about “patronage” is to view the issue from a top-down, broadly-conceived theoretical perspective. To understand Athenian political thought, we need to take an emic approach, to consider the perspective of the Athenian citizenry, which was concerned with present realities rather than complex, abstract models. The Athenian system’s protection of individual citizens incidentally put broad restrictions on elite patronage, but, despite these limitations, relationships of patronage persisted throughout the classical period albeit in non-threatening forms. Measures that ensured financial independence for the poor came only ad hoc and gradually. This article pursues three theses: (1) Athenians cared more about securing the freedoms of individual citizens than abolishing patronage, (2) patronage (as we would call it) existed in Athens but only in forms not threatening to civic freedoms, and (3) in Athenian thinking political freedom was prior to financial independence. This article also explores the possibility of patronage systems existing in Greek poleis outside Athens, arguing that patronage-limiting practices were typical of democratic regimes but unusual for oligarchies.

Society for Classical Studies: Public Statement (Nov. 28, 2016)

The Department of Classics at the College of Charleston supports the recent public statement by the national organization for Classics in the US, the Society for Classical Studies:

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“The mission of the Society for Classical Studies is “to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the ancient Greek and Roman world and its enduring value.” That world was a complex place, with a vast diversity of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures spread over three continents, as full of contention and difference as our world is today.  Greek and Roman culture was shared and shaped for their own purposes by people living from India to Britain and from Germany to Ethiopia. Its medieval and modern influence is wider still. Classical Studies today belongs to all of humanity.

For this reason, the Society strongly supports efforts to include all groups among those who study and teach the ancient world, and to encourage understanding of antiquity by all. It vigorously and unequivocally opposes any attempt to distort the diverse realities of the Greek and Roman world by enlisting the Classics in the service of ideologies of exclusion, whether based on race, color, national origin, gender, or any other criterion. As scholars and teachers, we condemn the use of the texts, ideals, and images of the Greek and Roman world to promote racism or a view of the Classical world as the unique inheritance of a falsely and narrowly-conceived western civilization.”

https://classicalstudies.org/scs-news/from-scs-leadership#sthash.YtK1p3sU.dpuf

 

 

CLASSICS STUDENTS TO PRESENT RESEARCH

Congratulations to Sarah Cohen, Hannah Edwards, and Gwen Gibbons, who were chosen to present their research at the Undergraduate Classics Conference, sponsored by the Department of Classics at the University of Tennessee (Feb. 25, 2017).

Sarah Cohen: “The Late Roman Period Mosaics at Sepphoris & Defining the Jewish Figural Style”

Hannah Edwards: “Fortuna and Virtus in Bellum Catilinae

Gwen Gibbons: “Martial in 140 Characters: Gender Commentary in the First-Century ‘Twitter’”

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Congratulations to Hanna, Gwen, and Sarah (left to right), and all our student researchers!

 

 

 

Dr. Susan Divine Presents Research at Midwest Modern Language Association’s Annual Conference

At the Midwest Modern Language Association’s 58th Annual Convention on November 10-13 in St. Louis, Missouri, Professor Susan Divine presented her paper “Javier Olivares from La luna de Madrid to El ministerio del tiempo.”  Click here for full conference program.

African American Studies Faculty Respond to the Michael Slager Trial

In the wake of the mistrial declaration on Monday in the murder case against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, we reprint below a letter that African American Studies-affiliated faculty at the College of Charleston sent to the editor of the Charleston Post and Courier expressing our concern that local newspaper coverage of the trial stirred too many echoes of prior narratives in which murderous violence against African Americans went unpunished.

Here is the text of our letter, published on November 15th under the heading “Looking back at racial injustice,” followed by some additional remarks on the trial and our letter’s reception. The letter can also be found at http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letters-looking-back-at-racial-injustice/article_ae4b918e-aa85-11e6-916a-e77d2a787060.html

* * * * *

Eighteen months after his arrest, former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is now on trial for the murder of Walter Scott, a black man shot to death after a routine traffic-stop. Although the police department and SLED initially concluded the shooting was justified, a bystander’s video of the shooting led to Mr. Slager’s arrest for murder. We all have become witnesses to Mr Slager firing repeatedly into the back of the fleeing Mr Scott.

As Mr. Slager’s trial unfolds, we watch with concern and sadness, knowing that the North Charleston shooting is one in a horrific series of recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. The recent P&C headline, “Was Slager justified or overreacting?” stirs echoes of too many prior narratives that blame the victim—who should not have run, should not have talked back, should not have somehow looked threatening.

As professional scholars in a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences with expertise in American and Southern cultures, we are equipped to comment on the assumptions, stereotypes, and historical and cultural circumstances that have contributed to systemic problems in our policing and criminal justice systems. We wish to remind readers that Walter Scott’s killing is not a new outrage. Our state and our nation have a long and well-documented history of wrongdoing against people of color by police and government officials who have not been brought to justice. Sadly, many whites have seen these acts as justified. Years after having participated in the murder of African Americans (the 1876 Hamburg Massacre), Ben Tillman continued to boast about the killings on the floor of the U. S. Senate. During the century after the Civil War, of the thousands of lynchings recorded, many occurred publicly while government officials stood idle or even participated. In 1955, the murderers of 14-year-old Emmett Till were acquitted by an all-white jury after lawyers told them, “Every last Anglo-Saxon one of you has the courage to free these men.”

These historical facts are a few of many examples we might cite. More recently, statistics collected by our own law enforcement agencies have shown that a much higher percentage of our citizens of color are being stopped by police, just as Mr. Scott was, for traffic violations. Mr. Slager’s attorney has noted the police department’s quota of three traffic stops per shift. A local interracial organization, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, has collected accounts of many of its members of color who have been stopped, and has joined the NAACP and the ACLU in calling for a public and independent audit of police practices in Charleston County, North Charleston, and Charleston. Even the North Charleston City Council has now voted to create a “Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Community-Police Relations.” However, many in our community are concerned that this gesture will not guarantee greater transparency or accountability in the city’s police practices.

Our academic expertise compels us to conclude that concerns about the Slager trial are thoroughly and sadly justified, and that the systemic problems this case has exposed will not be solved when the trial is over. We urge our fellow citizens and our elected officials to listen to the concerns being voiced and to take actions that will contribute to greater justice and safety for all residents of our communities.

Julia Eichelberger,PhD, Director of Southern Studies, CofC
Simon Lewis,PhD, Director of African American Studies, CofC
Vivian Appler, PhD, Theatre Studies
Mary Battle, PhD, History
Richard Bodek, PhD, History
Kristi Brian, PhD, Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies
Mari Crabtree, PhD, African American Studies
Matthew Cressler, PhD, Religious Studies
Adam Domby, PhD, History
Mike Duvall, PhD, English
Hollis France, PhD, Political Science
Valerie Frazier, PhD, English
Anthony Greene, PhD, African American Studies
Jon Hale, PhD, Teacher Education
George Hopkins, PhD, History
Gary Jackson, MFA, Poetry
Bernard Powers, PhD, History
Steven Profit, MLS, Research Librarian
Shari Rabin, PhD, Jewish Studies
Rebecca Shumway, PhD, History
Vincent Spicer, PhD, Psychology
Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Theatre Studies
John White, PhD, History
Patricia Williams Lessane, PhD, Anthropology

At moments over the last week, it looked as if the pattern of prior narratives of impunity might finally—historically—be disrupted, but with the news on Monday afternoon that the jury was deadlocked and that a mistrial had therefore been declared, we have once more seen a deferral of justice. Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson has said that she will retry the case, and there is still a federal case open against Mr Slager for depriving Mr Scott of his civil rights, but the failure of this jury to reach a consensus verdict is, as Ms Wilson commented, profoundly disappointing. We in the African American Studies program will continue to watch as this case unfolds further.

It is worth remarking that our letter prompted at least two responses published subsequently in the Post and Courier, taking us to task for being a “group of liberal professors” making armchair decisions. We had in fact deliberately drawn attention to our status as people with academic expertise in African American and Southern studies and had deliberately limited the number of people invited to co-sign the letter to professors with such expertise in order to offset just such a knee-jerk response. Racial injustice is not—or should not be—a partisan concern. The fact that it might have been so in the 1870s, 1920s, or 1950s when white supremacy was sometimes explicitly, always tacitly backed by law is part of the historical record. Our fervent hope was—and remains—that one day it will be only a part of that historical record, not a factor in contemporary life, and that one day, finally, this nation will live up to its ideals of providing liberty and justice for all.

In addition to the two published counter-letters in the Post and Courier, Julia and I received a couple of e-mails from an irate member of the public whose rationale for critique was perhaps even more disturbing than the entirely predictable critique that we were merely liberal academics. This correspondent had obviously gone to the trouble of Googling Julia and me and in a very telling phrase wondered why we were even concerned with the case since, as he said, “you have no skin in the game—you’re white.” I suspect the author was unconscious of the implicit denial of fellow-citizenship in his statement. Ava DuVernay’s film 13th has rightly been getting a lot of attention in recent months, but it seems as if the Fourteenth Amendment also needs to be re-emphasized:

Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Finally, we would like to reassert that as academics who study African American and Southern cultures, it is our business to tell the truth about our shared history and to point out links between the past and the present. We will continue to do so. As human beings we have “skin in the game.”

*****

Simon Lewis

 

African American Studies Faculty Respond to the Michael Slager Trial

In the wake of the mistrial declaration on Monday in the murder case against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, we reprint below a letter that African American Studies-affiliated faculty at the College of Charleston sent to the editor of the Charleston Post and Courier expressing our concern that local newspaper coverage of the trial stirred too many echoes of prior narratives in which murderous violence against African Americans went unpunished.

Here is the text of our letter, published on November 15th under the heading “Looking back at racial injustice,” followed by some additional remarks on the trial and our letter’s reception. The letter can also be found at http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letters-looking-back-at-racial-injustice/article_ae4b918e-aa85-11e6-916a-e77d2a787060.html

* * * * *

Eighteen months after his arrest, former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is now on trial for the murder of Walter Scott, a black man shot to death after a routine traffic-stop. Although the police department and SLED initially concluded the shooting was justified, a bystander’s video of the shooting led to Mr. Slager’s arrest for murder. We all have become witnesses to Mr Slager firing repeatedly into the back of the fleeing Mr Scott.

As Mr. Slager’s trial unfolds, we watch with concern and sadness, knowing that the North Charleston shooting is one in a horrific series of recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. The recent P&C headline, “Was Slager justified or overreacting?” stirs echoes of too many prior narratives that blame the victim—who should not have run, should not have talked back, should not have somehow looked threatening.

As professional scholars in a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences with expertise in American and Southern cultures, we are equipped to comment on the assumptions, stereotypes, and historical and cultural circumstances that have contributed to systemic problems in our policing and criminal justice systems. We wish to remind readers that Walter Scott’s killing is not a new outrage. Our state and our nation have a long and well-documented history of wrongdoing against people of color by police and government officials who have not been brought to justice. Sadly, many whites have seen these acts as justified. Years after having participated in the murder of African Americans (the 1876 Hamburg Massacre), Ben Tillman continued to boast about the killings on the floor of the U. S. Senate. During the century after the Civil War, of the thousands of lynchings recorded, many occurred publicly while government officials stood idle or even participated. In 1955, the murderers of 14-year-old Emmett Till were acquitted by an all-white jury after lawyers told them, “Every last Anglo-Saxon one of you has the courage to free these men.”

These historical facts are a few of many examples we might cite. More recently, statistics collected by our own law enforcement agencies have shown that a much higher percentage of our citizens of color are being stopped by police, just as Mr. Scott was, for traffic violations. Mr. Slager’s attorney has noted the police department’s quota of three traffic stops per shift. A local interracial organization, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, has collected accounts of many of its members of color who have been stopped, and has joined the NAACP and the ACLU in calling for a public and independent audit of police practices in Charleston County, North Charleston, and Charleston. Even the North Charleston City Council has now voted to create a “Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Community-Police Relations.” However, many in our community are concerned that this gesture will not guarantee greater transparency or accountability in the city’s police practices.

Our academic expertise compels us to conclude that concerns about the Slager trial are thoroughly and sadly justified, and that the systemic problems this case has exposed will not be solved when the trial is over. We urge our fellow citizens and our elected officials to listen to the concerns being voiced and to take actions that will contribute to greater justice and safety for all residents of our communities.

Julia Eichelberger,PhD, Director of Southern Studies, CofC
Simon Lewis,PhD, Director of African American Studies, CofC
Vivian Appler, PhD, Theatre Studies
Mary Battle, PhD, History
Richard Bodek, PhD, History
Kristi Brian, PhD, Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies
Mari Crabtree, PhD, African American Studies
Matthew Cressler, PhD, Religious Studies
Adam Domby, PhD, History
Mike Duvall, PhD, English
Hollis France, PhD, Political Science
Valerie Frazier, PhD, English
Anthony Greene, PhD, African American Studies
Jon Hale, PhD, Teacher Education
George Hopkins, PhD, History
Gary Jackson, MFA, Poetry
Bernard Powers, PhD, History
Steven Profit, MLS, Research Librarian
Shari Rabin, PhD, Jewish Studies
Rebecca Shumway, PhD, History
Vincent Spicer, PhD, Psychology
Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Theatre Studies
John White, PhD, History
Patricia Williams Lessane, PhD, Anthropology

At moments over the last week, it looked as if the pattern of prior narratives of impunity might finally—historically—be disrupted, but with the news on Monday afternoon that the jury was deadlocked and that a mistrial had therefore been declared, we have once more seen a deferral of justice. Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson has said that she will retry the case, and there is still a federal case open against Mr Slager for depriving Mr Scott of his civil rights, but the failure of this jury to reach a consensus verdict is, as Ms Wilson commented, profoundly disappointing. We in the African American Studies program will continue to watch as this case unfolds further.

It is worth remarking that our letter prompted at least two responses published subsequently in the Post and Courier, taking us to task for being a “group of liberal professors” making armchair decisions. We had in fact deliberately drawn attention to our status as people with academic expertise in African American and Southern studies and had deliberately limited the number of people invited to co-sign the letter to professors with such expertise in order to offset just such a knee-jerk response. Racial injustice is not—or should not be—a partisan concern. The fact that it might have been so in the 1870s, 1920s, or 1950s when white supremacy was sometimes explicitly, always tacitly backed by law is part of the historical record. Our fervent hope was—and remains—that one day it will be only a part of that historical record, not a factor in contemporary life, and that one day, finally, this nation will live up to its ideals of providing liberty and justice for all.

In addition to the two published counter-letters in the Post and Courier, Julia and I received a couple of e-mails from an irate member of the public whose rationale for critique was perhaps even more disturbing than the entirely predictable critique that we were merely liberal academics. This correspondent had obviously gone to the trouble of Googling Julia and me and in a very telling phrase wondered why we were even concerned with the case since, as he said, “you have no skin in the game—you’re white.” I suspect the author was unconscious of the implicit denial of fellow-citizenship in his statement. Ava DuVernay’s film 13th has rightly been getting a lot of attention in recent months, but it seems as if the Fourteenth Amendment also needs to be re-emphasized:

Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Finally, we would like to reassert that as academics who study African American and Southern cultures, it is our business to tell the truth about our shared history and to point out links between the past and the present. We will continue to do so. As human beings we have “skin in the game.”

*****

Simon Lewis

 

The Black and White Views of Charleston's Racially Charged Murder Trials

Two courts in the city of Charleston are currently overseeing high-profile, racially charged murder trials–that of Michael Slager and Dylann Roof–and although the cases differ in their particulars, both of these crimes speak to the pervasiveness of white supremacy locally and nationally. In an interview with Brandon Patterson, a reporter with the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones, Professor Mari N. Crabtree discusses the meaning and significance of the Slager and Roof trials. She also cautions against complacency in the wake of the verdicts, for the best memorial that Charlestonians could erect for the victims is not carved into granite but forged out of a serious confrontation with the systemic issues that produced these heinous acts of racial violence in the first place.

“But from past conversations I’ve had, I don’t think many black people here believed Slager’s trial was going to be a fair one. They weren’t surprised by the fact that the jury is nearly all white. It reaffirmed for them that the justice system is racist. But I don’t know what they anticipate the outcome to be. There’s a desire for Dylann Roof to be held accountable. But for many black people there’s also a trepidation that when his trial is complete, that will end any conversation about race. Or that if Slager is convicted, that people here will get the feeling that they are absolved of dealing with the issues that many black people believe produced Slager’s behavior.” – Professor Mari N. Crabtree

View the full interview here.