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WERE THE ROMANS RACIST? (article first published : 2000-12-23)

The SAfm documentary series The Inner Ear for broadcast on January 3, 2001, at 20h00 presents Were the Romans Racist?, to be repeated on January 7 at 09h30. The programme is researched and presented by John Simpson.

"In recent times the subject of race relations has been very pertinent and so much so that the subject has been serious enough to have occasioned international conferences to address this abhorrent social issue," says John Simpson.

“But how new are these race relation problems? It would be safe to say that most of us would relate these problems to fairly recent history and the colonisation of various parts of the world by European nations with the main colonisers being the Portuguese, French, Spanish, Dutch and British, the latter having created the late British Empire. This no doubt has caused the popular belief, because the areas of the world they colonised - such as many parts of Africa, India, and Malayisa etc - that race relation problems had their origins in skin colour."

John Simpson goes back in time to look at one of the greatest and most notorious colonisers the world has ever known who went about their empire building over 2000 years ago. The Romans. "Were they confronted with these, what we tend to think are race problems that have occurred within the last 300 years" he asks. "And if they didn't, could the Romans have set standard that made them model colonisers?"




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