AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details

Session Information:
Program Number: 2-0225
Type: Session
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), GEOFF EMBERLING, LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University) 
Chair(s): GEOFF EMBERLING, ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University) 
8:00 AM: GEOFF EMBERLING -- How to Eat With Your Elders: on the Persistence of Culture  
8:15 AM: PETER MACHINIST (Harvard University) -- Reminiscences and Reflections on a Career Still Developing  
8:30 AM: MIRIAM STARK (University of Hawaii-Manoa) -- Inscribing Legitimacy and Building Power in the Mekong Delta  
8:45 AM: MIN LI -- Archaeological Landscapes of Disorder: Legitimacy and Contention at The Temple of Confucius  
9:00 AM: LAURA CULBERTSON (University of Chicago) -- Communities With Many Courts: The Lives of Disputes in Early Mesopotamian States  
9:15 AM: DAVID WENGROW (University College of London) -- Cultural Mixing in the Cauldron of Civilization  
9:30 AM: LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University), ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago) -- Counternarratives of Collapse: Violence, Disorder, and Restoration in the South Caucasus, 1200-200 BC  
10:00 AM: PATRICIA MCANANY (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) -- The Archaeology of "Apocalypse": Unseating the Horsemen  
10:15 AM: SEVERIN FOWLES (Barnard College) -- Writing Against Collapse  
10:30 AM: TIM MURRAY (La Trobe University) -- Transformations: An Antipodean Perspective  
10:45 AM: STEVEN FALCONER -- Counternarratives and Counterintuition: Accommodating the Unpredicted in the Archaeology of Complexity  
11:00 AM: JOHN BAINES (University of Oxford) -- City and Countryside, Text and Image: Modelling What We Can't Know for Ancient Egypt  
11:15 AM: DISCUSSANT: CARLA SINOPOLI (University of Michigan)  
11:30 AM: DISCUSSANT: NORMAN YOFFEE (University of Michigan)  
11:45 AM: End of Session
Abstract: Over the past 30 years, the anthropology of early states and civilizations has undergone a dramatic transformation as the neo-evolutionary emphasis on coherence, centralization, and continuity has given way to richer theoretical concerns with conflict, contention, and collapse. At the forefront of this sea change in the field’s intellectual horizon has been the work of Norman Yoffee. Ever suspicious of the calcifications inherent in “schools” and “isms”, Yoffee’s work has been restlessly resistive and constantly provocative. When contemporary movements in archaeological theory demand particularism, Yoffee insists upon the comparative view, steadfastly defending generalizing efforts to understand the rise and fall of civilizations. Where many traditional approaches require steadfast materialism, Yoffee recalls our attention to the ideological visions of order that underlie claims to legitimacy. What Yoffee’s work continues to provide to the discipline of anthropology is a series of counternarratives that challenge us to engage and critique the assumptions at the heart of the study of complex societies on every continent and in every era. The papers in this session will grapple with the complexities of Yoffee’s counternarratives, which have traversed the boundaries of time, space, and disciplines. Drawn from an array of geographic and historical locations, the papers gathered here will bring forward the dominant bulwarks of contemporary approaches to the anthropology and history of early polities in order to rethink and reframe the debate. The presenters and discussants, former students and colleagues of Yoffee’s, engage critically with his writing, offering narratives and counternarratives of their own as a testimony to this distinguished scholar’s lasting influence on the field.


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