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Why is Human Evolution Directional: A Discussion of Bio-Socio-Material Entanglements

Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 8, 2018. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center
Workshop: 
Archaeology--Political Landscapes: Past and Present
Meeting Description: 

This talk argues that there is clear evidence for an overall directionality in human evolution towards greater entanglement in material stuff. The causes of this directionality are described within a theory of human-thing entanglement that focuses not on networks of heterogeneous actants but on dialectical tensions between humans and things. There is a dependency and temporality to thing relations not captured by the notion of networks. Contrasts are also drawn with Niche Construction Theory. Examples will include the histories of the wheel and of cotton.

Ian Hodder was trained at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London and at Cambridge University where he obtained his PhD in 1975. After a brief period teaching at Leeds, he returned to Cambridge where he taught until 1999. During that time he became professor of archaeology and was elected a fellow of the British Academy. In 1999 he moved to teach at Stanford University as Dunlevie Family Professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Stanford Archaeology Center. His main large-scale excavation projects have been at Haddenham in the east of England and at Çatalhöyük in Turkey where he has worked since 1993. He has been awarded the Oscar Montelius Medal by the Swedish Society of Antiquaries, the Huxley Memorial Medal by the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Fyssen International Prize, the Gold Medal by the Archaeological Institute of America, and has honorary doctorates from Bristol and Leiden Universities. His main books include Spatial Analysis in Archaeology (1976 CUP), Symbols in Action (1982 CUP), Reading the Past (1986 CUP), The Domestication of Europe (1990 Blackwell), The Archaeological Process (1999 Blackwell), The Leopard’s Tale: revealing the mysteries of Çatalhöyük (2006 Thames and Hudson), and Entangled: An archaeology of the relationships between humans and things (2012 Wiley Blackwell).

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