Naomi Campa, “Freedom and Exclusion: Citizenship and Immigration in Athenian Democracy”

March 4, 2020 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm


Freedom was a core value of Classical Athenian democracy, but analyzing Athenian fear of immigrants reveals the potential duality of this principle. In this lecture, Dr. Campa will first demonstrate that ancient democracy uniquely defined freedom for its citizens as the ability to do “whatever one wished.” Citizens were thus remarkably empowered in Athens. The result of entwining citizenship with freedom and power, however, was the ideological exclusion of non-citizens from both. Turning to a historical court case prosecuting an immigrant for masquerading as a citizen, she will then explore how democratic ideology could be mobilized against foreigners. The prosecution attempts to arouse fear in the jury through portraying the defendant, Neaira, as gaining power at the expense of Athenian citizens. By examining the relationship between freedom, power, and citizenship, Dr. Campa aims to elucidate the imagined threat the immigrant wife posed to Athenian citizenship.

Naomi Campa is Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Kenyon College. Her research specialties include ancient political theory, oratory and philosophy. Campa's current book project, "I Do What I Want: Freedom and Power in Classical Athens," investigates the ideologies of freedom and power underlying citizenship in the first democracy.

Location and Address

Posvar Hall, rm. 4130