Dalrymple Lecture Series: Lecture 2
Tuesday 19 November 2019, 06:30pm
Contact Dorothy Gormlie

We are pleased to announce that our 2019/2020 Dalrymple Lecture Series will be given by Professor Adam T. Smith, on the subject of The Civilization Machine.

This series of lectures is held over four consecutive evenings, starting on Monday, November 18th, 2019, and finishing on Thursday, November 21, 2019. Unlike our usual lecture programme, the Dalrymple Lecture Series are held in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre on the corner of Gibson Street and University Avenue.

This lecture for Tuesday, November 19th, begins at 6:30pm. 


The Civilization Machine

Few intellectual turns have been more complete than the exile of the idea of civilization from the late 20th century historical imagination. What had been a bulwark of Whiggish historiography was relegated to the very margins of scholarly reflection, a tarnished, even archaic, term made ridiculous by the twinned shocks of world wars and decolonization. It has thus been quite surprising that the 21st century has brought with it the conceptual rehabilitation of civilization, both as a social formation and a chrononym for our historical moment. But while civilization appears to have regained some credibility as a descriptive term, it still lacks the analytic capacity needed to help us understand how it produces coherent large-scale communities and hence shapes the long-term histories of human societies. It lacks, in other words, a user manual that can define its conditions of assembly, its operation and maintenance, and how to troubleshoot failures.

In these lectures, Professor Smith will argue that civilization is not a state of being but a material apparatus, a complex machine that produces publics, human communities that understand themselves as coherent actors. This civilization machine thus not only informs our accounts of the past but also conditions our present and hence our possible futures. As human relationships with our material world have fostered increasing anxiety over the sustainability of civilization, it is imperative that we begin to gain a solid understanding of the logics shaping this powerful apparatus. The lectures take Bronze and Iron Age Caucasia as their primary focus as they move across the disciplinary terrain of philosophy, political science, anthropology, history, and archaeology.

Lecture Two: Operation: Bronze Age Metaphysics
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 – 6.30pm

Fundamental to the operation of the civilization machine is the definition of being and not being, a etaphysical understanding deeply shaped by the world of things. Surveying the archaeology of Early, Middle, and Late Bronze Age funerary remains in the South Caucasus, this lecture examines the integration of human bodies into the civilization machine as communities work to partition the nature of existence, map the spatial distribution of being, and define a temporal process of becoming.

There is no need to book tickets in advance for this event; attendance is free of charge and open to members and non-members of Glasgow Archaeological Society alike. If you are interested in becoming a member of the society and would like more information, please see our Membership page or contact our Membership Secretary via email.

Location Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre on the corner of Gibson Street and University Avenue