May 1/May 24, 2001 – Civilizational Thinking Seminar

Michael Shanks
(Classics and Cultural Anthropology, Stanford)

35 Moments in The Construction of an Archaeological Site. Or, the Impossibility of Archaeology

Tuesday, May 1 | Oakes Mural Room | 4:00 PM

Professor Shanks is an archaelogist who, in his own words, “taking the broadest view of the subject, works on what is left of the past.” From 1993-98 he was Head of Archaeology at the University of Wales, Lampeter and helped build there a department with a new interdisciplinary agenda. In seven books and other publications, the latest of which is Theater/Archaeology, forthcoming from Routledge-“the (re)articulation of ruin/trace as real-time event”-he has tried to contribute to a critique of anthropological archaeology which would radically revise it as a disciplinary and cultural field.


Stephen Caton
(Anthropology, Harvard University)

America–the Land Without History

Thursday, May 24 | Oakes Mural Room | 4:00 PM

Professor Caton is a Middle East specialist and anthropological linguist by training, but of late has become interested in writing a biography of one of his ancestors, a prominent lawyer and judge who lived in the midwest in the nineteenth-century United States. This paper examines his amateur scientific writings, along with a number of other, more professional pieces written about the same time by the noted anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan and the celebrated historian Frederick Jackson Turner, and examines the way in which the categories of “science,” and particularly of “natural history,” were constructed at the time. It will be argued that the production of what was then called scientific knowledge is complexly related to issues of regionalism and civilization as discussed in this seminar.

The Civilizational Thinking project is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.