By Christi E. Parker
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It is of course impossible fully to recover ancient civilization. But we can acknowledge the interests scholars bring to their work, the ways in which their location in the present affects what they see when they look at the past. I see not sameness in antiquity, but difference and complexity, an unfamiliar world which can offer not a mirror image of ourselves, but rather a contradictory, complicated set of beginnings for Western culture. Like Bennett, I think we should study the past, but not to ﬁnd nuggets of eternal wisdom.
B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey, as well as contemporary Afrocentrists like Leonard Jeffries and Tony Martin, as if there were no distinctions among them, no other points of view on the question of Afrocentrism among African-American historians, intellectuals, and academics. Why is she so bent on denouncing the Afrocentrists, especially those who claim primacy for African culture, and its historical priority over Hellenic civilization? 44 their greeks She justifies her passion in part through an argument about cultural superiority, sliding from the idea of priority or originality to supremacy, and in effect neglecting Bernal’s arguments about classicists’ disregard of ancient Semitic and Near Eastern cultures in favor of an exclusive denunciation of Afrocentrism.
Such thinking distorts, freezes, and idolizes ancient culture, representing our own time as simple repetition of a past these contemporary writers invent, often ignoring the inevitable differences produced in more than twenty-ﬁve hundred years of historical change. Their ancient Greeks serve as a ﬁxed, immutable point of beginning, a single origin for a monolithic Western civilization now besieged by a new set of barbarians, immigrants from new continents, with other histories, seeking to displace the Greeks from their imaginary seat at the beginning, a seat sometimes but not always shared with ancient Israel.