Classics 383B/Africana Studies 383C/Anthropology 380P: Race and Ethnicity in Ancient North Africa (G, N, O GenEds)
Spring 2010    Monday/Wednesday (1:10-2:35 PM)       Fine Arts 247
Binghamton University, State University of New York, Department of Classical & Near Eastern Studies

Instructor: John H. Starks, Jr.         (607) 777-4524
Library Tower 1102 - Office hours M 8:30-9:30AM, W 9:30-11:30AM

Daily Assignments/Syllabus

Synopsis: We will examine several cultures that inhabited ancient North Africa (Egyptians, Nubians/Kushites, the Jewish communities in Egypt, the Carthaginians, and several ethnic groups of northwest Africa, often collectively described by outsiders as "Berbers") before and during the period of Greek and Roman influence around the Mediterranean. To understand these diverse societies we will use the tools of cultural anthropology: ancient Greek and Roman literary texts, native and western art and archaeology, inscriptions, papyri, and coins, qualitative and some quantitative analysis of data, and modern scholarly studies in ethnicity to see how these cultures lived and how they influenced, and were influenced by, the Greeks and Romans. We will also, at times, employ geography and physical and linguistic anthropology to comprehend the changes in African peoples' lives from pre-dynastic to Byzantine Egypt and from the cultures of native Numidians to Semitic Carthage to the Christianized Roman province of Africa. Throughout the term, we will try to find as much objective truth as we can about these important ethnic groups and their societies, in spite of the usual absence of native texts and reliance on Greek and Roman perceptions of "the other"; we will, therefore, also treat issues of imperialism, oppression, prejudice, racism and alterity as applied to these peoples by their conquerors. Greek and Roman ethnographic curiosity about the Mediterranean world and diverse ethnic practices will be continually examined beside modern studies in social science to further our awareness of how the native or early populations of North Africa maintained or adapted their cultures under foreign rule.

Through reading and discussion of Greek (Herodotus, Polybius) and Latin (Horace, Livy, Juvenal, Ammianus Marcellinus) authors and modern studies of Egyptians, sub-Saharan Africans/Nubians, the Alexandrian Jewish community, and the "Berber" tribes of North Africa, we will engage ancient and modern conceptions of race and ethnicity daily. In this course, to build oral communication skills, students will participate regularly in class discussions, deliver an oral paper on a topic in classical North African ethnic studies, and an original deliberative debate speech as a member of the Carthaginian senate on the pros or cons of a third war with Rome. Peer critique and suggestions for improved oral skills will always be given to students on these projects so that they will know their improvement in presentation will factor into assessment of their work. A written midterm on Northeast Africa and a short written ethnic self-study round out the grade.

Texts, Course Requirements and Grade Distribution

Student Learning Outcomes – by the completion of this course, students will:

1) Improve oral communication skills through practice in discussion, creative role play, and formal presentation, and through peer evaluation and review (Oral Communication GenEd, Classics Learning Objective 7).

2) Recognize, analyze, and understand, with the aid of anthropological, historical, and geographical methods, some of the mutual influences that Egyptians, Nubians/Kushites, Jews, Carthaginians, and ‘Berber’ communities in Africa had on Greek and Roman history, institutions, economies, societies and cultures through contact, observation, and imperialism (Global Interdependency GenEd, Social Science GenEd (N), Classics Learning Objectives 2, 3,4).

3) Appreciate and analyze the continuities and discontinuities between these ancient cultures and modern cultures, in both the western and non-western traditions (Global Interdependency GenEd, Classics Learning Objectives 3, 6).

4) Appreciate and analyze the chronology of these African cultures with respect to Greek and Roman historical and cultural chronology (Classics Learning Objective 5)

5) Improve analytical and evaluative skills in writing and critical thinking through extensive reading, discussion, composition, and creative thought (Classics Learning Objectives 8, 9).