GETTING CURIOUS | How Diverse Was The Ancient Mediterranean? with Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey


This week, we’re traveling back to one of our favorite sites for curiosity: the ancient Mediterranean. Professors Sarah Derbew and Nandini Pandey join Jonathan to discuss how people across the region experienced cultural diversity; how they related to—and set themselves apart from—their neighbors; and what it looks like to approach the ancient past on its own terms rather than filtered through contemporary assumptions.

Sarah Derbew is an assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University. She writes, teaches, and speaks widely about ancient Greece’s literary and visual heritage, considering its representations of black people that nimbly provoke – and cut through – modern hierarchies. 

You can follow her on Twitter @BlackAntiquity, and at Her new book Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity is out now, and you can purchase it using the coupon code UBGA2022. 

Nandini Pandey is an associate professor of classics at Johns Hopkins University who writes and teaches about Roman culture, Latin literature, ancient race and identity, and the ways that all of these live on in the modern world.  

You can check out her books, essays, media, and events at or follow her on Twitter @global_classics. Her first book is on The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome.

Want to learn more about race in classical antiquity? Professor Pandey recommends Rebecca Futo Kennedy’s writing

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Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.

Transcripts for each episode are available at

Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our associate producer is Zahra Crim. Our editor is Andrew Carson.

Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness