In this episode Dr. Rebecca Futo Kennedy discusses and explains the Mary Bear "Controversy."
In a brief BBC cartoon posted to YouTube late last December, a high-ranking Roman soldier and his family tackle the challenges of daily life in ancient Britain. The dad is off helping build the famed Hadrian's wall at the province's far northern edge; the son tries to make right for losing his father's scarf. Everyone ends up happy ever after.
Yet benign as its plot may seem, this little film — which, sadly is only available for British viewers — has stirred up a big fight on social media. And it all revolves around the color of the leading characters' skin.
Many celebrities and commentators such Nassim Nicholas Taleb viciously attacked the cartoon and historians who supported the underlying complexities displayed by the animation and that is History isn't simple, it is complicated and no empire is Homogenous.
Dr. Mary Beard a sweetheart to us all who study ancient history commented her support for the cartoon and its accuracy and was in short attacked by trolls and certain controversial figures including Dr. Nassim Taleb who attempted to discredit her and her stance, in the end we all take what side that we wish but Dr. Beard obviously held her own and revealed that not only is history complicated and that DNA tests can be manipulated to suit a variety of agendas but that there is a growing movement today dedicated to distorting the past less "colorful."
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Doctor Rebecca Futo Kennedy is Associate Professor of Classics, Women's and Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies at Denison University; and the Director of the Denison Museum. Her research focuses on the political, social, and cultural history of Classical Athens, Athenian tragedy, ancient immigration, ancient theories of race and ethnicity, and the reception of those theories in modern race science.
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Why I teach about race and ethnicity in the classical world (article.)
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