Speaker: Kathy Gaca, Associate Professor of Classics, Vanderbilt University
Ravaging is a little studied form of total warfare that is gendered, age-based, and war god-devoted. Productive civil inhabitants are targeted for ravaging when they refuse to stay subservient as forced laborers under martial elite conquest and takeover, such as by Romans during their imperial rise to power. Partly to produce future generations of subordinate and docile gender-separated laborers, the forces also must capture for rape and enslavement the girls and women wanted alive from the ravaged people. Drawing on Homeric epic, Thucydides, and later Greek historians and philosophers, Kathy historicizes and critiques this prevalent but little studied religious ideology of warfare.
Kathy L. Gaca’s research explores aspects of social injustice rooted in antiquity that remain problematic in the modern day and need a clearer ethical and historical understanding. She focuses mainly on ancient customs of sexual violence and repression and their ongoing relevance for comprehending current norms of injustice and violence against women and girls. She is the author of The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003, winner of the CAMWS 2006 Outstanding Publication Award). She is currently finalizing her second book, Rape and Enslave or Kill: Men, Women, and the Religion of Sexual Warfare and Colonialism from Antiquity to Modernity. She received her PhD in Classics at the University of Toronto and held the Hannah Seeger Davis Post-doctoral Fellowship in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.