Ancestors, Animacy, and Archives: Social Cohesion and Solidarity in the pre-Hispanic Andes

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Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

A Talk by Elizabeth DeMarrais

Anthropologists increasingly acknowledge that, outside Western systems of thought, perceptions of the consciousness, agency, and intentions of ‘non-human actors’ (places, objects, or animals) are dramatically different. In the Andes, people perceive a vital force (sami) that circulates in and through people, places, objects, and landscapes. If this life-force could be identified in the archaeological record, how would our understanding of the past be transformed? Join Elizabeth DeMarrais as she investigates place-making, deposition (in caches and burials), and collaborative labor projects using archaeological evidence from the Calchaquí Valley, Argentina. She will show how rituals structured communal activity, building a sense of mutual obligation and interdependence, within and beyond individual communities. 

Elizabeth DeMarrais studied Anthropology at Brown University, graduating in 1986. She continued her studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, receiving her doctorate in 1997. She has taught at the University of Cambridge since 1998, where she is also Co-Director of the Material Culture Laboratory. Her interests include social theory, material culture (especially pottery), power and politics, settlement patterns, and architecture. Although she has worked in the Andes for many years, she has also done fieldwork in Hawaii, Arizona, and Iceland. As the Calchaquí Valley project ends, she is developing a new project on Cape Cod to investigate relationships between indigenous people and English settlers.

Join anthropologist Elizabeth DeMarrais (Cambridge University) as she investigates place-making, deposition, and collaborative labor projects using archaeological evidence from the Calchaquí Valley, Argentina. She will show how rituals structured communal activity, building a sense of mutual obligation and interdependence, within and beyond individual communities.

This event is free and open to the public, followed by a reception at the same location. 

Supported by the generous donors to the Jane Powell Dwyer Memorial Lecture Fund.