Global Antiquities

A research network dedicated to the study of ancient Greece, Rome, and China


Globalization has changed the organization of research and teaching in the Humanities. The composition of the faculty and of the student body at our universities has diversified, and this process is accompanied by a transformation of research portfolios and teaching curricula. At many universities, Western Civilization courses have already given way to offerings that apply a more multi-faceted approach to history, society and culture. While these developments are well under way, it is only gradually that we have come to realize that the current re-negotiation of concepts and contents requires a new approach towards the cultural foundations of human society.

Global Antiquities is designed as an academic engine that helps us to pioneer through the junctures of cultural reflection today. Our network explores the history and social impact of cultural paradigms from a distinctly global perspective. We call for a sustained study of some of the most basic cultural foundations of the world. While aiming at the production of new academic knowledge, our team also seeks to employ the knowledge of past cultures and make the scholarly dialogue between them relevant to the intellectual and moral reflections that accompany the forces of globalization.

Global Antiquities explores the creative potential of juxtaposing the cultural foundations of the Mediterranean World ('the West') and China ('the East'). The research group embarks from the observation that ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese societies were governed by similar features that were also characteristic of other civilized pre-modern societies. In order to provide for a meaningful comparative methodology, we examine three topical clusters that are central to their political culture in a series of workshops: people (2014), places (2017), performances (2020).

From our experience in the classroom we have learned how fascinated students are by cultural legacies other than their own. Global Antiquities transforms their, and our, academic curiosity into new intellectual discoveries. It is hoped that the comparative knowledge fostered by our network will also contribute to the generation of a new type of cultural meaning in globalized societies.