Some thoughts on AIA-SCS 2019
Dan-el Padilla Peralta

"I should have been hired because I was black: because my Afro-Latinity is the rock-solid foundation upon which the edifice of what I have accomplished and everything I hope to accomplish rests; because my black body’s vulnerability challenges and chastizes the universalizing pretensions of color-blind classics; because my black being-in-the-world makes it possible for me to ask new and different questions within the field, to inhabit new and different approaches to answering them, and to forge alliances with other scholars past and present whose black being-in-the-world has cleared the way for my leap into the breach."

But what are the consequences of such a line of thinking, which is, in the end, a viewpoint derived from Heideggerian philosophy? If one's black being-in-the-world is a conditio sine qua non of coming up with different approaches and views, and if one's intellectual views are essentially inseparable from questions of personal identity and issues relating to race, gender, etc., what are we left with on the basis of which individuals with different subjectivities can understand and recognize the issues raised? If there is no possibility for me, who isn't black, to come up with certain views in classics on account of me not being black, how (and why) is it possible for me to understand and recognize the views raised by another individual, who could raise those views only on account of her/his being black? You could say, it is just coming up with a different approach, or raising a certain point only which is made possible by the particularity of subjectivity, but understanding and recognizing the approaches and views is made is possible on the basis of other, more universal, foundations. But how is it possible to come up with a view or an approach without first gaining an understanding of the issues at hand? And is that understanding limited by one's particular subjectivity? If it is, how can it then be later universalized, such that people with different subjectivities are able to recognize the point raised and understand the issue in the same way as the black subject? It is not possible, because understanding of an issue is gained on the basis of universal principles (whatever they may be), independent of subjectivity. It should not take a black person to understand and point out that it is not a good thing for a field to be completely hegemonized by people of a particular race, or by individuals subscribing only to a particular line of thought. If the understanding and pointing out of such issues depended on particular subjectivity, it would be a disaster, since then, nobody would be required to agree that it is, in fact, a problem that classics as a field is not diverse.