Roger Bagnall Participates in an “Open Art” Event Panel at the Getty Villa

By Maggie Pavao

Hosted by the Getty Villa and Zócalo Public Square, last week's "Open Art" Event, moderated by Margot Roosevelt, engaged several experts on the topic of What Can the Ancient World Teach Us About Globalization? Roosevelt's key question to the panelists asked them what is the single most significant thing we can learn from past civilizations about globalization.

Roger Bagnall, Leon Levy Director Emeritus and Professor of Ancient History, participated in the panel discussion and replied that because ancient governments were not democratic, “they had a whole lot less trouble with globalization than we do.” 

"Long before there was any talk of Brexit, trade deficits, lost domestic jobs, or currency manipulation, some ancients believed that globalization mostly benefited elites. Yet, Bagnall said, although it’s true that Roman elites benefited considerably from globalization, so did many poor people who migrated to places where they found better work. 'But we don’t hear about them because they didn’t write books,' Bagnall said."

Other panelists included Grant Parker, a classical philologist at Stanford University, and Jan Nederveen Pieterse, a scholar of globalization, development, and cultural anthropology at the University of California Santa Barbara.

According to Zócalo's article, "The hour-long event touched on several issues that were as complex and thorny in the globalized ancient world as they are today: identity and assimilation; the role of language in shaping consciousness and asserting power; and the tug-of-war between emerging global powers, eager to put their mark on the map, and decadent older powers seeking to find (often darker-skinned) scapegoats for their troubles."

Watch the full panel discussion here.