2009–2010 Membership Lecture Series

Pirates, Primates, and Prosperity: New Insights on Wealth

Dr. Laurie SantosDr. Laurie SantosPhotograph by Jason S. OrdazDr. Laurie SantosPhotograph by Jason S. Ordaz

In a year when the global economic crisis was in the headlines daily, the SAR Membership Lecture Series offered insights into notions of value and wealth from an anthropological perspective. Five leading scholars, including SAR vice president John Kantner, explored these basic notions from angles including how the ancient Puebloan people of Chaco Canyon regarded their astonishing “wealth” of turquoise, copper, and shells, how monkeys make “human” economic errors, the mistaken assumption that Buddhism is unconcerned with the worldly pursuits of day-to-day economics, and new insights into the mysterious economy of Bronze Age China. And in a seemingly prescient scheduling coincidence, the first lecture of the season examined how popular notions of piracy compare with the archaeological reality, only a few months after contemporary Somali pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama cargo ship and took its American captain captive. This incident brought piracy and its relationship to the global economy into public discourse in an unprecedented way. We hope SAR members were able to put today’s pirates into a deeper and broader context.

This year the Membership Lecture Series changed venues, to the beautiful auditorium at the New Mexico History Museum, a change that seemed to please members and draw a new audience to the lectures. John Kantner’s talk on “Turquoise, Trumpets, and Tchamahias: The Wealth of Chaco Canyon” attracted a standing-room-only crowd, and “Buddhist Economics: An Oxymoron?” Don Swearer’s lecture, “pulled in a Santa Fe audience we hadn’t seen before,” reported SAR staffer Jean Schaumberg.

October 2009
“Buccaneer of the Caribbean” Lecture
Thursday, October 15, 2009, 6:30–7:30 pm, Free for SAR members X Marks the Spot…Or Does It? Fact and Fiction in the Study of Piracy Russell Skowronek (University of Texas–Pan American) … popular, romanticized ideas of pirates and piracy are compared to evidence uncovered by archaeologists.
November 2009
Cylinder jars found in Pueblo Bonito Lecture
Thursday, November 5, 2009, 6:30–7:30 pm Turquoise, Trumpets, and Tchamahias: The Wealth of Chaco Canyon John Kantner (School for Advanced Research) … what we know about Chacoan notions of wealth and value and how these concepts changed over time.
February 2010
Pu with Openwork Interlaced Dragons Design Lecture
Thursday, February 18, 2010, 6:30–7:30 pm The Circulation of Wealth in Bronze Age China Lothar von Falkenhausen (University of California–Los Angeles) … archaeological evidence offers the best hope for understanding the rise of imperial states in China and Central Eurasia during the late first millennium B.C.
March 2010
Meditating Monk Lecture
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 6:30–7:30 pm, Free for SAR members Buddhist Economics: An Oxymoron? Donald Swearer (Harvard University) …Buddhism is as concerned with worldly pursuits and aspirations as with otherworldly mysticism.
April 2010
Capuchin Monkey Lecture
Thursday, April 29, 2010, 6:30–7:30 pm, Free for SAR members The Evolution of Monetary Irrationality Laurie Santos (Yale University) Monkeys make “human” economic errors, and some human financial errors are evolutionarily ancient.
Follow us: