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Dan-el Padilla Peralta

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Dominican by birth and New Yorker by upbringing – dulcius urbe quid est? – I graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in Classics with a SPIA certificate (2006; Latin Salutatory). I read for the MPhil in Greek and Roman History at Oxford (2008) under the auspices of the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, then received a PhD in Classics from Stanford (2014) with the support of the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship. After two years at Columbia’s Society of Fellows, I returned to Princeton.

I work on the religions and politics of the Roman Republic and Empire, shuttling between literary and material sources and social-scientific approaches. Early Roman comedy (especially Plautus), historiography (from Cato the Elder to Livy), and antiquarianism (Varro and Festus) are abiding concerns. The arc of Roman slavery in the period of Rome’s imperial expansion is central to my research and teaching, as are comparative histories of slavery, Black feminist theory and historiography, and sociologies of knowledge production and epistemicide. I also work on classical reception in the U.S. and Latin America: here commitments to comparative political theory, Black Studies, critical race studies, and the history of citizenship are particularly important.

Public-facing scholarship and/as pedagogy matter a lot to me. I’ve taught for both the Justice-in-Education Initiative and the Freedom and Citizenship Program. I used to write for and sit on the board of the journal Eidolon; I’ve published pieces for The Guardian, Matter, Vox, the NYTFabulistdiaphanes, and Public Books. Many of my public lectures are online.

I’m the author of two books: Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin 2015); and Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic (Princeton 2020). I’ve co-edited two others: Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation (with Matthew Loar and Carolyn MacDonald; Cambridge 2017); and Making the Middle Republic: New Approaches to Rome and Italy, c. 400 – 200 BCE (with Seth Bernard and Lisa Mignone; Cambridge 2023). I’m a volume editor for the Cambridge History of the African Diaspora. Projects in the works include Classicism and Other Phobias, a manuscript emerging from the 2022 W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures338 BCE: Rome and the Age of Empires, co-authored with Denis Feeney (under contract with Harvard University Press); A People’s History of Rome (under contract with Princeton University Press); and a manifesto on race and racism within the disciplinary identity of classics, co-authored with Sasha-Mae Eccleston. With Eccleston, I co-founded the conference series Racing the Classics. I currently sit on the executive board of the RaceB4Race collective.

Alongside my ancient history colleagues, I teach the Roman history undergraduate surveys (CLA 218 and 219), and ancient history seminars at the graduate level. I also offer courses on Roman religion and law, unloved Latin prose authors, the history of citizenship, race and racialization, and the history of slavery. I’m currently involved with dissertations on enslavement and habituation in the Roman world, trauma in triumviral and post-triumviral Latin literature, the significance of city destruction in Flavian Rome, and the materiality of fashioning the divine in the Roman Empire. I’ve supervised junior and senior independent work on Etruscan pirates, Aurelian’s coinage, mid-republican anatomical votives, mock-archaism in Livy, female medical workers in the Early Empire, slavery and education in the Roman world, shadows in VergilCostan Rican myth in Greco-Roman garb, Stoicizing education for the 21st century, classical reception in the first Haitian novel, and Etruscan identity in the early Empire.

I’m associated faculty in African American Studies, affiliated faculty in the Program in Latin American Studies and the University Center for Human Values, and faculty coordinator for the Princeton chapter of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship.