He Wants to Save the Classics from Whiteness: Can the Field Survive?

Rachel Poser
New York Times Magazine

Excerpt: Dan-El Padilla Peralta, a leading historian of Rome who teaches at Princeton and was born in the Dominican Republic, has been speaking openly about the harm caused by practitioners of classics in the two millenniums since antiquity: the classical justifications of slavery, race science, colonialism, Nazism and other 20th-century fascisms. Classics was a discipline around which the modern Western university grew, and Padilla believes that it has sown racism through the entirety of higher education. Surveying the damage done by people who lay claim to the classical tradition, Padilla argues, one can only conclude that classics has been instrumental to the invention of “whiteness” and its continued domination.