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Landscapes of (Re)conquest: Ecological Understandings of Conflict and Coexistence at the Frontiers of Medieval Europe

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 17, 2016. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center; Building 500, Room 106
Workshop: 
Archaeological Histories and Futures
Meeting Description: 
Anthropologists have demonstrated how frontiers – the spaces across borders – are defined by differential national, ethnic and gender identities, inflected in a way that distinguishes them from political heartlands. The multicultural character of frontiers disrupts the process of state formation and cultural homogenisation. As a result, the frontier is the focus of multiple and competing meanings, which states seek to control through the symbolic encoding of space. The frontiers created following ideologically charged military conquests - which defined the expansion of Latin Europe in the Middle Ages - are particularly contested and volatile spaces, reflecting a tension between the imposition of the conquering culture and the resilience of conquered communities. The environment is a useful multi-scalar lens for assessing the impact of the creation of a frontier, and degrees of cultural imposition versus resilience. Three medieval frontiers will be compared within the context of an ongoing comparative study: the Baltic, Iberia and the Middle East.
 
About the speaker: Aleks Pluskowski is Associate Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading, UK. His research focuses on the relationship between nature and culture in medieval Europe, particularly within frontier societies associated with crusading, colonisation, cultural encounters and religious transformations. His publications include Wolves and the Wilderness in the Middle Ages (2006), The Ritual Killing and Burial of Animals: European Perspectives (2011) and The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation (2012). His recently completed ERC project "The Ecology of Crusading", which examined the environmental impact of the Baltic Crusades, is currently being published by Brepols.

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