New book in Dutch on antiquity and ethnicity

Date of news: 24 March 2022

How were skin colour and ethnic characteristics viewed in antiquity, and how can modern-day education about antiquity be more inclusive and diverse? These are the questions explored in the recently published book De huid van Cleopatra (Cleopatra's skin). The editors include Mirte Liebregts, PhD candidate at the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) of the Faculty of Literature.

What did Cleopatra really look like? What was the immigration policy of the Roman Empire and what consequences did it have? How did Aristotle view slavery? These kinds of questions still occupy people's minds and illustrate how much modern man mirrors the ancient (especially Greek and Roman) world or, on the contrary, turns away from it.

The way in which diversity and ethnicity are discussed in the Netherlands today differs sharply from the concepts used in Ancient Egypt, Persia or Greece. But also in Antiquity, skin colour and other ethnic characteristics were noticed and commented on, in both a positive and negative sense.

De huid van cleopatraIn the new book De huid van Cleopatra, fifteen authors – among whom prof. Maarten De Pourcq and Dr Nathalie de Haan – examine three different but interrelated questions about antiquity and ethnicity. How were skin colour and ethnic characteristics viewed in antiquity? How did the study of ('Classical') Antiquity and Eurocentric ideology and politics influence each other throughout the centuries? And how can Ancient Studies, both in terms of available knowledge and the discipline, be made more widely accessible today?

Liebregts: 'We observed about a year ago that relatively few Dutch-language publications exist in which themes like diversity, ethnicity and inclusivity were connected to the ancient world, while there is increasing attention for these topics both in academia and in society. We hope this volume can offer tools and inspiration for further research and for new initiatives and publications.'

De huid van Cleopatra is published by Uitgeverij Verloren.