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Sienna Kang

Sienna Kang

PhD Candidate - Ancient History
The rise of democracy in ancient Greece is too often attributed to a sui generis egalitarianism in Greek culture. By contrast, my dissertation contextualizes Greek democracy within broader patterns of religious and political centralization. Through a cross-cultural investigation, I demonstrate that city-states had the general challenge of controlling religious ideology, as the cultural boundaries of their religions exceeded their political borders. City-states responded in one of two ways: a centralizing response associated with divine rule and a communalizing response associated with decentralization of political power, as seen in ancient Greece. Thus, the dynamics of power that governed the development of Greek democracy also underpinned the development of divine kingships elsewhere in the ancient world. 
 

Beyond my primary research interests in Greek history and ancient religions, I am also interested in cultural anthropology and political economy. I am also the founder and organizer for Oral Literature and Literate Orality,” a Stanford Humanities Center Research Workshop that explores from a multidisciplinary standpoint how oral literature stands alongside and engages with texts in literate societies. 

I also like modern and contemporary art, public transportation, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.