The PhD/MA Program in Classics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York invites graduate students in Classics and related fields to submit abstracts for papers that explore the topics of hospitality and xenophobia in the Graeco-Roman world.
Hospitality is commonly recognized as an important value in the ancient Greek world. Xenia– or guest friendship – was a political and religious institution as well as an instrument of diplomatic relations. Through practices of supplications, strangers and foreigners demanded to be received in aristocratic houses or in whole cities. On the other hand, there is a growing debate about the existence of xenophobia and ethnocentrism in the ancient world, from the distinction between Greeks and barbarians to the Roman treatment of enemies and slaves.
The Greek word ξένος indicates the guest, but also the stranger and the foreigner. A similar semantic ambiguity is reflected also in the Latin words hostis/hospes. This conference aims to explore this ambiguity, investigating how the ancient world conceptualized the treatment of strangers and foreigners, between the two opposite poles of hospitality and xenophobia. How were strangers and foreigners considered? What were the religious and political implications of welcoming/rejecting a stranger? How was hospitality used as a diplomatic tool? How is the development of a specific Hellenic identity connected with the consideration of foreigners and barbarians? Were the Greeks and Romans xenophobic or even, in the modern sense of the word, racist? Is the modern idea of ancient hospitality just a myth?
Topics the papers might address include but are not limited to:
- Xenia in Homeric and post-Homeric world
- Literary and artistic representations of hospitality, supplication, xenophobia
- Religious and political implications of hospitality and xenia
- Philosophical conceptualization of the foreigner and the barbarian
- Supplication and sanctuary spaces
- Ethnicity and ethnic identity
- Stories of ancient migrations and refugees
- Modern reception of ancient stories of hospitality or xenophobia
- Contemporary engagement with and political use of ancient concepts of hospitality and/or xenophobia
Please send an anonymous abstract of approximately 300 words as an email attachment by December 23, 2018. Submissions must include, in the body of the email, your name, university affiliation, and the title of the presentation. Speakers will have 15 minutes to present. Selected applicants will be notified by early January. Questions and abstracts will be received by the conference co-chairs Elizabeth Mellen and Alessandra Migliara at email@example.com.