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Faculty of Classics

 

Establishing collaborative links with universities across the world, particularly in parts of the world that were formerly under British rule, forms a crucial part of attempts to reclaim Classics from its colonial legacy and reinvigorate the discipline. The Faculty has a standing commitment to this work, which involves direct engagement with the history of Classics across the world and to ensuring the future of Classics as an area of inquiry open to all.

The Classics Beyond Borders project is an important part of the Faculty of Classics’ commitment to ensuring that the discipline thrives as a more diverse and inclusive scholarly endeavour and demonstrates our determination to take concrete positive steps to foster dialogue with Classicists across the world. We have been supported by the ALBORADA fund from Cambridge Africa, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, and the Faculty of Classics.  The project is part of the Global Humanities Initiative.

The project is led by Dr Frisbee Sheffield who is supported by Dr Rosanna Omitowoju and Professor James Warren.

Our first collaboration is with Classicists and Philosophers at the University of Ghana. Classicists in Ghana are at the forefront of liberating the subject from its colonial past and Ghana remains the only country in West Africa where Classics is studied in two public universities (the University of Ghana since 1948, and the University of Cape Coast since 1963). Developing new connections with Ghana promises to open up new possibilities for research and teaching, which will be beneficial for both parties: we need to invest in intercultural dialogue to diversify the discipline and to investigate mechanisms for widening access for African students. Furthermore, they need support in their efforts to strengthen the discipline. The Collaboration so far In 2022-3 we begin this collaboration with a set of joint seminars and conferences focussing on Plato on community, a topic in which researchers in Cambridge and in Ghana are already interested.

We have collaborated on the core research project: “Plato and Political Community” by means of a hybrid seminar and two conferences. We showcased this work at a successful panel presentation at the annual Classical Association Conference in 2023 in a panel called “Classics Beyond Borders: Plato on the Nature and Value of Community”. Two papers from Cambridge scholars and two papers from colleagues from Ghana were delivered on the topic of Plato and community. We presented new work on leading African philosophers, such as the writings of the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and leading exponents of modern African Philosophy, such as Kwame Gyekye and Kwasi Wiredu.

There will be a flagship conference at the University of Ghana in September 2023 to disseminate the results of the collaboration so far with colleagues and students in Ghana and beyond.

We have also been assisting the University of Ghana's teaching programme in classical languages by arranging an online course for postgraduate students.  We plan to extend this provision next year and to begin to work together to produce translations of Greek and Latin texts into local African languages.

To support this project, we increased access in Ghana to monograph and journal provision in collaboration with Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. Through our contacts with the Classics and Philosophy editors at each Press we have ensured that the University of Ghana has access to Cambridge Core Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, and Oxford Scholarly Editions.

We have also funded a post-doc who is working on a Ghanaian philosopher (a former enslaved person) who wrote philosophical treatises in Latin. Stephen Oppong Peprah, who completed an MPhil in Cambridge and a PhD in Prague will be a Bye-Fellow at Girton college for 2022-3 and will provide assistance to the project while working on his own research on Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1703-1759). Amo was perhaps the first African to study in a modern European University. Until recently, Amo’s scholarship, especially his philosophy, was unheard of or marginalised. The motivation behind Stephen’s research on Amo is to make his philosophical works accessible to a wider audience, especially Ghanaian students and researchers.

We also funded a Visiting scholarship for Michael Asante from Ghana who came for over a moth to stay at Clare Hall. He delivered the 2023 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion lecture this year to the Faculty of Classics on Global Classics in Africa, and disseminated his research more widely to students and staff alike.

 

 

 

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