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Pietro Cannatella

Teaching Assistant (Casual)

Teaching Assistant (Casual) in the Department of Classics and Ancient History


I completed my BA in Ancient History at the University of Manchester in 2017 and my MSc in History and Theory of International Relations at LSE in 2018. Then I was a volunteer teacher, which I thoroughly enjoyed, which is why I undertook a PGCE in Latin with Classics at the University of Cambridge during the 2020-21 academic year. I have a keen interest in outreach programmes that promote Classical Antiquity in secondary schools. This corresponds with prior research in understanding how we can use digital games to increase motivation and intercultural communication competence amongst secondary school pupils.

Research Project

My doctoral research is an interdisciplinary investigation into the causes of one of the oldest hegemonic wars in human history: the Peloponnesian Wars. I will re-examine a key watershed moment in Athenian history, the sack of its city during the Persian Wars, and explore its role in establishing an inevitable path to conflict by 432 BC. By using International Relations (IR) Theory as a heuristic tool, I will assess whether the shared Athenian experience of the destruction of the city suffered in 480 BC conditioned Athenian behaviour (and its foreign policy) in the years up to 432 BC. My work will investigate the extent to which the recurring trauma of the sack (a ‘persistent memory’), and its manipulation and later exploitation by Athenian foreign policy leaders such as Pericles, corroborates this hypothesis.

The transmission of collective trauma into an enduring persistent memory can have a multitude of effects on states, both ancient and modern. This research is a preliminary foundation for understanding the role of persistent memories within international relations. They can explain continued hyper-aggressive foreign policies, help us to understand the psychology of empire, and even outline the beginnings of ‘grand strategies’ arising out of the unlikeliest of historical events.