Democracy Forum: Then & Now: Women, Immigration, Democracy
Moderator: Alicia Stallings (poet, critic and translator)
KEYNOTE Speaker: Prof. Mary Lefkowitz (Wellesley College), Women’s Role In Democracy
If women had been able to vote in ancient Athens, would it have made a difference? In Athenian tragedies female characters speak out for equality, for the oppressed, and about the difficulties of their own lives. In recent elections the results show that women tend to vote the same ticket as men.
Prof. Geoffrey Bakewell (Rhodes College), Anxiety in the Polis: Immigration, Metics and Citizens
Although Athens benefitted from the flood of foreigners who arrived in the wake of the Persian Wars, its citizens nonetheless feared the effects of immigration in political, sexual and economic realms. In his tragedy Suppliant Women Aeschylus reflects on the difficulties and dangers that new noncitizens brought to the polis.
Prof. Sheila Dillon (Duke University), Women on the Move in the Ancient Mediterranean
Migration was no doubt as common in antiquity as it is today, and although often overlooked, women were a major part of the movement of peoples across the Mediterranean. As in the Syrian crisis today, many wives and mothers in antiquity fled their home cities because of warfare. Gravestones document the women who were subjects of this human diaspora.
Prof. Jenifer Neils (ASCSA), Women and Politics on the Parthenon
While the sculptures of the Parthenon portray many mythological women (goddesses, Helen, Amazons), they also uniquely depict contemporary female Athenians. The famous frieze includes ten married women who may represent the ten tribes established by the democracy. While these “citizen” women were empowered by Pericles’ Citizenship Law, foreign women became disenfranchised.