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April 25 – 27, 2017

Exploring the Religious Experience of Ancient Cities

Co-chaired by Susan M. Alt, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University and Timothy R. Pauketat, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois

With the support of the School for Advanced Research and the John Templeton Foundation (grant 51485), a group of eight internationally renowned archaeologists met at the School for Advanced Research for a three-day seminar.  The stated purpose was to develop a new understanding of the causal relationships between early religions, urbanism, affects, and sensory experience. The working theory holds that urbanism and religion are inseparable aspects of a particular way of being in the world that has dramatically altered both human history and humanity.  Seminar co-chairs Dr. Susan Alt and Dr. Timothy Pauketat organized the gathering to do two things simultaneously: (1) to apply newer “relational” and “new materialist” approaches to early urbanism and religion, and (2) ground those approaches in a comparative archaeological synthesis that covers the globe.

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November 14–16, 2017

Epistemic Colonialism: Indigenous Communities, Archaeology, and Evidence in the Americas

Co-chaired by Katherine Howlett Hayes, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Tsim D. Schneider, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Archaeologies of colonialism increasingly seek to counteract traditional views of the plight of Indigenous populations and the systematic erasure of peoples, sites, and cultures from the land, from public memory, and from within the conventional writing of history. For archaeologists, countering narratives of indigenous loss often requires gathering evidence to demonstrate resiliency, even as many present-day Indigenous communities doubt the very premise of that loss. Building on a successful two-part session held at the 2016 American Anthropological Association conference, this seminar was designed to continue the conversation about evidence in the archaeology of colonialism, and the colonial nature of evidence (epistemology) in archaeology. As part of this ongoing work, the seminar more fully explored how both settler colonial studies and critical indigenous theory changes perspectives on epistemology.

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