Diversity Arenas? A Roman Pre-History of Racial Capitalism

ANU Classics Museum, Figurine of a Gladiator - 1975.20

The 2024 HRC-Centre for Classical Studies Distinguished Lecture

Diversity Arenas? A Roman Pre-History of Racial Capitalism

This talk will introduce key themes from the speaker’s forthcoming book on Roman diversity, using examples from the Roman gladiatorial arena to illustrate how the value Romans placed on diversity was often tied to the commodification of racial difference. Drawing from Achille Mbembe's work on necropolitics and the archive, this talk views the arena as a diversity theater that enabled Romans to tokenize and consume memories of the violent incorporation of the foreign that ultimately resulted in the orderly heterogeneity of empire. It will ask whether Rome's gladiatorial spectacles speak to our own modern mechanisms for negotiating ethnic difference, from sports arenas to universities to quotas.

This lecture is presented in partnership with the ANU Centre for Classical Studies

Light refreshments to be served following the lecture, from 7pm

Dr Nandini Pandey is Associate Professor of Classics at John Hopkins University. In 2018, she published a prize-winning monograph, The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2018). This book puts textual, historical, and material evidence into dialogue to explore how imperial authority was built, critiqued, and deconstructed over time. More recently, Dr Pandey's public-facing essays and podcasts have analyzed modern culture, politics, and racial issues in light of the ancient past. Dr Pandey also serves on the board of the Society for Classical Studies and comes to the ANU as the 2024 HRC-Centre for Classical Studies Visiting Fellow

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation plan please contact the event organiser.

Date & time

Wed 15 May 2024, 6–7.30pm


RSSS Auditorium, 146 Ellery Cres, ACTON ACT 2601


Dr Nandini Pandey, John Hopkins University


Humanities Research Centre


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