Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics

Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics

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By (author) Martin Bernal, Edited by David Chioni Moore

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  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 576 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 239mm x 43mm | 862g
  • Publication date: 1 October 2001
  • Publication City/Country: North Carolina
  • ISBN 10: 0822327171
  • ISBN 13: 9780822327172
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 689,993

Product description

In 1987 a book appeared that generated one of the most passionate debates of recent decades. Producing a shock wave of reaction from scholars studying the civilisation of the ancient Greeks, Martin Bernal's Black Athena argued that the development of Greek civilisation was influenced predominantly by Afro-Asiatic civilisations. Moreover, Bernal asserted that this conception had been deliberately obscured by the rampant racism of nineteenth-century Europeans who could not abide the notion that Greek society - for centuries recognised as the originating culture of Europe - had its origins in Africa. The subsequent rancour among classicists to Bernal's theory and accusations was picked up in the popular media, and his suggestion that Greek culture had its origin in Africa was widely derided. In a report on 60 Minutes, for example, it was suggested that Bernal's hypothesis was essentially an attempt to provide blacks with self-esteem so that they would feel included in the march of progress. Black Athena Writes Back is Bernal's long-planned third instalment, in which he responds to his critics by providing both additional documentation and disarming explanations of why traditional scholarship on the subject remains inaccurate and why specific arguments lobbed against his theories over the past decades are themselves faulty. Black Athena Writes Back requires neither a prior familiarity with the Black Athena hypothesis nor with the arguments advanced against it. Beyond those who have been engaged in the debate since it began, educated readers interested in ancient civilisation and world history will be fascinated by its arguments.

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Author information

Martin Bernal is Professor of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. The first two volumes of "Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization "("I: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785-1985"; and "II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence") have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Swedish and will soon be available in Greek and Japanese.David Chioni Moore is Assistant Professor of International Studies and English at Macalester College.

Review quote

"A fascinating and important debate. As a lay reader I find both the scholarly arguments and the human differences very gripping. Bernal tells the story of the process of academic diffusion very vividly and gives us the kind of background we don't usually discover." - Margaret Drabble "Bernal's material is fascinating, his mind sharp and his analyses often convincing." - Richard Jenkins, The Times Higher Education Supplement "Black Athena must be the most discussed book on the ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean world since the Bible... [It] enjoys such continued attention because it raises important scholarly questions, and because it makes a difficult subject available to a large audience." - Mario Liverani, in Black Athena Revisited "Few books published about the ancient world since World War II have provoked as much interest both inside and outside the discipline of classics as has Black Athena."-Guy MacLean Rogers, in Black Athena Revisited " Fourteen years ago, a tiny London publisher brought out a 600-page academic study of Ancient Greece... within months Black Athena had become--as one historian said--probably the most hotly debated book about the ancient Mediteranean since the Bible. That first volume was soon reissued by Random House as a mass-market paperback. Broadsheet editors pontificated in a dozen countries about Bernal's claims. TV documentaries were made, and symposia convened. A whole cottage industry of attacks and couter-attacks developed around Bernal's work. Black Athena Writes Back, his new collection of replies to his critics, is just the latest instalment in an unending saga."--The Independent, 29 December 2001 " ... I follow with continuing fascination the astonishing academic debate on deep history in Martin Bernal's Black Athena Writes Back--one of the strangest intellectual confrontations of our time."--Margaret Drabble, The Independent, 1 December 2001

Back cover copy

"[F]ew books published about the ancient world since World War II have provoked as much interest both inside and outside the discipline of classics as has "Black Athena.""--Guy MacLean Rogers, in "Black Athena Revisite"d

Table of contents

Contents - Egyptology - Can we be fair? A reply to John Baines; Greece is not Nubia - A reply to David O'Connor; Classics - Who is qualified to write the history of Greece? A reply to Lawrence A. Tritle; How did the Egyptian way of death reach Greece? A reply to Emily Vermeule; Just smoke and mirrors? A reply to Edith Hall; Linguistics - Ausnahmslosigkeit uber alles - A reply to Jasanoff and Nussbaum; Historiography - Accuracy and/or coherence? A response to Palter, Norton and Blok; Passion and politics - A response to Guy Rogers; The British Utilitarians, Imperialism and the fall of the Ancient Model; Science - Was there a Greek scientific miracle? A response to Robert Palter; Animadversions on the origins of Western science; Recent Broadening Scholarship - Greek art without Egypt - Hamlet with out the Prince - A review of Sarah Morris's Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art; One or several revolutions? A review of Walter Burkert's The Orientalising Revolutions; There's a mountain in the way - A review of Martin West's The East Face of Helicon; Phoenician politics and Egyptian justice in Ancient Greece; A popularizing effort; All not quiet of the Wellesley front - A review of Mary Lefkowitz's Not Out of Africa