Project Description

“Exploitation and Otherness: Investigating the Nexus of Race, Ethnicity, and Enslavement in the Ancient Mediterranean”

Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura della Compagnia di San Paolo (hereinafter ‘Fondazione 1563’) has since 2013 supported research and advanced training in the field of the humanities. In a wider effort to pursue this goal, in 2020 Fondazione 1563 launched the Turin Humanities Programme, a research initiative that allows junior scholars to work on interrelated research projects under the guidance of especially appointed Senior Fellows.

THP aims at promoting two-year research projects about relevant global history topics. Under THP Fondazione 1563 launched a third research cycle (2023-25) on Slavery, ethnicity and race in the Mediterranean: ideas and attitudes from Homer to Columbus.

The Turin Humanities Programme and Fondazione1563 are pleased to invite doctoral students and early career researchers to submit their applications to the Summer School Exploitation and Otherness: Investigating the Nexus of Race, Ethnicity, and Enslavement in the Ancient Mediterranean. 

The Summer School aims to discuss the role of notions and constructions of otherness for the practice of human exploitation, focusing on the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean.

The relation between racism and enslavement is famously debated in the study of modern systems of slavery. In his fundamental (and long overlooked) study of the economics of modern slavery, Eric Williams argued that racial discrimination was more a result than a presupposition of slavery. This thesis is still a focus of controversy for modern historians. Meanwhile, the scholarly consensus, recently restated by Stanley Engerman, holds that ancient systems of enslavement were race-blind, as it were, that is, that they were underpinned by a fundamental notion of the arbitrariness of enslavement, whereby no specific class of individuals was seen as especially prone or likely to be enslaved. The research cycle of the Turin Humanities Programme seeks to challenge this consensus, pointing to the gap between the theoretical arbitrariness of enslavement and the practice of enslaving individuals of specific ethnic groups. In the framework of this revision of ancient ideologies of enslavement, in the 2024 Summer School invites junior and senior scholars to join a discussion on the nexus of otherness and human exploitation in the ancient Mediterranean.

While the importance and the very existence of racial and ethnic discrimination in antiquity have been debated and more often than not denied in scholarship after the Second World War, in recent years many scholars have advanced a revisionist line of interpretation, which postulates the existence of racial discrimination and/or racism long before the so-called scientific racism that emerged in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. Without necessarily accepting wholesale the consensus that is emerging in this new wave of scholarship, the question that the 2024 Summer School intends to explore is to what extent the human exploitation that was fundamental to ancient Mediterranean economies, typically in the form of enslavement, was supported by or itself generated or promoted ethnic and racial discrimination, and more broadly, an image of the exploited individual as other, culturally or naturally, in comparison to the ancient observer. In this framework, we also hope to explore how and to what extent gender played a role in such notions of otherness.

The THP 2024 Summer School provides a forum for postgraduate students and early career researchers in the field of humanities and the social sciences (history, philosophy, literature, art history, anthropology, religion) to engage with the most up-to-date academic debates and global historiographical currents on enslavement, ethnicity and race in the ancient Mediterranean.

We encourage applications from researchers with a strong interest in:

  • Slavery and other forms of un-freedom in the pre-modern Mediterranean
  • Ethnicity and ethnic prejudice
  • Gender in ancient Mediterranean cultures
  • Cultural hierarchies and their ideological underpinnings
  • Buying, selling and trafficking persons in the ancient Mediterranean

English will be the default language of the Summer School. The Summer School programme includes keynote lectures by Christopher Eyre (University of Liverpool), Daniela Marchiandi (Università di Torino), Christopher Marshall (UBC), Christopher Parmenter (Ohio State University), Amy Richlin (UCLA) and Kelly Wrenhaven (Cleveland State University), research presentations by the Junior Fellows of the Turin Humanities Programme, feedback sessions and roundtable discussions.

To foster dialogue between senior and young scholars, the 2024 Summer School offers its participants a unique opportunity to contribute to the broader discussion on themes of ancient social and cultural history with their own ideas and research. Successful applicants will also have the chance to present their papers in panel sessions which will be followed by a Q&A led by a panel discussant.

To apply for the Summer School, prospective participants should submit a brief academic CV (max. 2 pages), an abstract of the research they wish to present (max. 400 words) and a short essay on why they would like to attend the Summer School (max. 200 words).

Please, upload these materials within the application form that can be found on the website of Fondazione 1563 at the following link: by 10.00 PM (Italian/CET time) of June 23, 2024.

The Summer School will be activated only with a minimum of 10 participants; a maximum of 12 participants is allowed.

The participation in the Summer School is free to all Italian and International postgraduate students and early career researchers. Travelling expenses to and from Torino and accommodation expenses in Torino will be borne by the participants.

Fondazione 1563 will provide the participants with a list of hotels where they can get special offers as participants of the Summer School.

Upon acceptance of the participation in the Summer School, the participants will be asked to confirm their participation in the social events proposed by Fondazione 1563.

For information, please contact the organisers at

The candidates will be selected based on their resumes and the relevance of their intended contributions to the general subject of the Summer school.

They will be informed of the result of the selection by early July via the email address they included in the application form.

Successful applicants will receive the attendance form that will have to be signed for acceptance and returned, on pain of forfeiture, within 5 working days starting from the date of the communication.

Fondazione 1563 reserves the right to suspend, modify or cancel this selection procedure or the Summer School in any moment at its discretion, without that being in any way for the Candidates a right or a demand to claim any refund, compensation or reimbursement.

Placed On: May 3, 2024

Closes: June 23, 2024 – 10:00 PM

For information and questions please email: