Cultural Identity and the Peoples of the Ancient Mediterranean

Scholarship on cultural identity generally privileges the ways that groups differentiate themselves from others. Attention is paid to the drawing of boundaries between communities by the deployment of identifying symbols and practices ranging from dress and language to works of art and religious ritual. Indeed, the binary self versus other structures most research in this area.

In 2007–2008, the Villa scholars program will build upon the work of Erich Gruen (in residence for the year as Villa Professor) to explore another aspect of cultural differentiation in the context of the ancient Mediterranean world. In constructing cultural identity, ancient peoples often willingly acknowledged their ties to others. How did ancient Mediterranean peoples visualize themselves as part of a broader heritage? How did they forge links with other groups? What happens to research in this area when similarities and togetherness are stressed rather than differences and otherness?

Villa Professor

Erich Gruen is the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in Greek and Roman history as well as cultural appropriations and collective identity in antiquity.
Cultural Identity and the Peoples of the Ancient Mediterranean

Getty Scholar

Ada Cohen is associate professor at Dartmouth College in the Department of Art History. She specializes in Alexander the Great's imagery and the construction of sexualized and gendered visual identities.
Ideals of Beauty in Ancient Greece

Visiting Scholars

Kevin Butcher is a professor in the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University in Beirut. He specializes in Greek and Roman numismatics and the ancient economy in the Roman Near East, particularly Syria and Lebanon.
Religious Architecture and Identities in Roman Syria

Cecilia D'Ercole is a professor at the Université Paris I at the Sorbonne. She specializes in Adriatic cultures and identities, Roman conquests of Italy, and Mediterranean exchange.
Cultures between Unity and Differences: The Case of the Adriatic Sea Peoples (VIIIth–IVth Century B.C.)

Josephine Quinn is lecturer in ancient history and classics at Oxford University and fellow and tutor at Worcester College. She specializes in Roman North Africa in the Republican period.
Hellenistic Africa: Connectivity, Culture and Identity between the Mediterranean and the Sahara

Karen Stern is lecturer at the University of Southern California, School of Religion. She specializes in Judaism in antiquity.
Emulation is the Sincerest Form of Romanitas: Interpreting Jewish Culture in the Southern Mediterranean (1st–6th Centuries, C.E.)

Postdoctoral Fellow

Maria (Molly) Swetnam-Burland received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She is lecturer at Portland State University in Oregon. She specializes in the reception of Egyptian culture within the Roman Empire.
Egypt in the Roman Imagination: Cult, Culture, and the Invention of the Foreign