Dr. T.A. (Tazuko) van Berkel

  • Postdoctoral Researcher; lecturer
  • Classical languages and cultures

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2674
E-Mail: t.a.van.berkel@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for the Arts in Society, Griekse T&C
Office Address: Johan Huizingagebouw
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 1.06a
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2674
E-Mail: t.a.van.berkel@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for the Arts in Society, Griekse T&C
Office Address: Johan Huizingagebouw
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 1.06a
Personal Homepage: www.hum.leiden.edu/​icd/​organisation/​members/​berkeltavan.html

Fields of interest

  • Greek language and literature
  • the history of ideas, especially value terminology
  • ancient history
  • economic anthropology
  • ancient philosophy, especially ethical texts, dialectics, relativism, skepticism
  • modern philosophy; the philosophy of economics


Counting and Accountability. The Politics of Numbers in Classical Athens
Do numbers speak for themselves or is it what you do with them that matters? Are numbers facts or is counting 'the religion of this generation'?  

Contemporary politics is to a large extent conducted through numbers: numeracy is believed to serve as a stimulus to democratic discourse and civic decision making, while politicians are expected to convey correct and exact numerical data as their ability to do so vouches for their accountability, objectivity and expertise—core values of democratic leadership crucial for political trust in society. These democratic connotations of numbers find their origins in an important sense in Classical Athens where the political function and communicative meaning of numbers and calculations were subject to debate.  

An inhabitant of the democratic polis of Athens increasingly found himself surrounded by numerical data, ranging from financial records monumentalized on stone and deliberative speeches in the assembly, to playful allusions in tragedy and comedy or highly technical discussions in philosophy. It is my hypothesis that, whereas numbers and calculations are not inherently democratic, the particular cultural circumstances of Athenian direct democracy (5th and 4th centuries BCE) have given rise to a conception of numbers and calculations as democratic phenomena, representing open access to information, objectivity, rational necessity and accountability.  

In my project I aim to describe this process and the debate surrounding it by analyzing three types of discourse: written communication in public inscriptions, oral communication in political speeches and explicit reflection in ancient Greek political thought. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, consisting of philosophical, literary, epigraphic, cultural-historical and anthropological methods, I will offer a new interpretative framework for understanding the role of numbers and calculations as strategies of communication and persuasion in political contexts.  

The Economics of Friendship
In my doctoral dissertation (2012) I have analyzed the effects of the monetization of the Greek world in the 5th and 4th century on conceptions of reciprocity in friendship. I have argued that in this period the questions and views about the nature of friendship reflect concerns with the isomorphism between reciprocity within friendship and exchange on market economic terms. The insistence on the subjective moments in friendly exchange, i.e. on internalized dispositions (gratitude, trust) and on the singularity of both persons and objects, is a conceptual reaction on the danger of isomorphism. I am currently preparing a monograph based on this dissertation.

I received the Legatum Stolpianum award for my dissertation. You can read about it here (in Dutch) and here (in English). This prize, established in the last will of Jan Stolp in 1753, is one of the oldest academic prizes in Europe.

Other research projects

Digital Humanities: Sources and Echoes of Protagoras
In addition to working on my dissertation I have presented a paper in an international conference on Protagoras of Abdera (2007) that has resulted in an article on the Man/Measure-statement. I am currently part of a team with Dr. Marlein van Raalte, Dr. Adriaan Rademaker and Prof. dr. Noburu Notomi (Keio University) that prepares a new critical edition of the fragments of Protagoras (“Sources for Protagoras”). In collaboration with other fragment edition projects we are exploring new digital ways of publishing fragmentary material.

Critical Edition: Eudemus of Rhodes
In collaboration with Dr. Peter Stork, Prof. dr. Johannes van Ophuijsen en Dr. Mariska Leunissen we are working on an annotated edition of the mathematical fragments of Eudemus of Rhodes that will result in a monograph in the Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanities-series.

Moral Accounting
In collaboration with Prof. dr. Arjo Klamer I am working on a publication on the principles of Moral Accounting, i.e. “bookkeeping” in contexts that are distinct from purely economic relations.

Art Project: A Community of Weak Ties
In a collaborative art project with artists (Ronald Boer, Jonmar van Vlijmen) and anthropologists (Dr. Erik Baehre, Nikkie Buskermolen) we are working on new ways of conceptualizing and tackling debt problems among youngsters in Amsterdam New West. Our aim is to establish a Community of Weak Ties and to stage encounters between people from different social environments. E.g. Youssef from a vmbo High School in Amsterdam New West and a banker from the Zuidas. For more information: Pamflet: A Community of Weak Ties (Dutch) and Facebook.com/Schuldencoop.

Group Project: Mass Communication in Classical Antiquity
In the spring term of 2012 I was a research fellow at the NIAS in Wassenaar in the group “Mass communication in Classical Antiquity” that worked on communication strategies in contexts of mass communication and decision making in Greco-Roman Antiquity.     


Trust and Active Partnership in Ancient Philosophy

Curriculum vitae

Tazuko Angela van Berkel
Born: 28 December 1979

BA/MA Classics, Leiden University (with distinction)

coördinator of OIKOS (National Research School for Classics)

MA thesis "Waarheden en Weerwoorden: een Interpretatie van Dio Chrysostomus' Elfde Oratie"

Project Manager at Brill Academic Publishers


BA Philosophy (with distinction)

PhD Student (Classics; part-time), Leiden University; thesis defended on 27/11/2012 (with distinction)

coordinator of OIKOS (National Research School for Classics)

Researcher and Lecturer, Leiden University

Postdoctoral researcher and lecturer, Leiden Unviersity

Teaching activities

BA-seminar "Normen en Waarden" (BA 3)
Tutoring (BA 1)
Greek Language Acquisition 2 (BA 1) Plato's Crito and Apology (BA 1)
BA-privatissimum "Sources and Echoes of Protagoras: Protagoras and Plato" (BA 3, Digital Humanities)
MA-privatissimum "Sources and Echoes of Protagoras: Protagoras and Diogenes Laertius" (MA & ResMA, Digital Humanities)

Greek linguistics (BA 2)
Thesis seminar (BA 3)
Greek language acquisition 2 (BA1)
BA-seminar 'Normen en Waarden'  (BA3)
Tutoring (BA1)

Greek language acquisition 2 (BA1)
Tutoring (BA1)

Plato’s Symposium (BA1)
SCHOLAE-course ('zij-instromers') on Plato
Homer (BA2)
Greek language acquisition 1 (BA1)

Sophocles' Oedipus Rex  (BA1)
Greek Language Acquisition 2 (BA1) 

LAPP-top programme 'Thucydides in Irak' (secondary school)
Plato's Gorgias (BA1)
Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (BA1)  


research fellowship at NIAS

Key publications

  • “Made to Measure: Protagoras’ metron”, in: J.M. van Ophuijsen, M. van Raalte & A.M. Rademaker (eds.), Protagoras of Abdera. The man, his measure, Leiden 2013
  • “Pricing the Invaluable. Socrates’ Economics of Friendship”, in: R. Rosen & I. Sluiter (eds.), Valuing Others in Classical Antiquity, Leiden 2010, 249-77.

Last Modified: 10-12-2015