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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

Inaugural Lecture - Professor Yannis Hamilakis Event

Osmani Simanca, Brazil, 2015: truth
8 December 2015
Lecture Theatre B, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton, SOUTHAMPTON SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Tracy Storey at .

Event details

Part of the Humanities 2015-2016 Inaugural Lecture series.

Eternal debts and occult economies: the archaeo-politics of the contemporary crisis

The current economic and social crisis in Greece and Europe in general has become the subject of intense, local, and international debate, yet the discussion has been dominated by economists, political scientists, and some historians. At the same time, it is evident that in both domestic and foreign invocations and pronouncements, the classical heritage and the material past more broadly loom large. I will claim that, far from being simply a colourful backdrop to the political discourse or a frivolous distraction from the serious matters at hand, such invocations bring forth crucial issues, hardly touched upon by scholarly research to date: the deeper roots of the dominant perceptions and stereotypes that structure the current political discourses, in Greece, in the rest of Europe, and beyond; the salient continuities between the crypto-colony of the 19th century and the debt colony of the present; and the fundamental role that the classical material heritage, and the materiality of the past in general, have played in the shaping of contemporary perceptions and discursive regimes. In this talk, I will elaborate on this argument, examining in particular notions of debt and indebtedness as cultural phenomena which produce specific regimes of subjectivity and morality. I will also explore how specific archaeological stories that became prominent media phenomena and public obsessions, are intricately linked with the contemporary crisis. Such cases often become stories of “national treasure-hunting,” or better, examples of what anthropologists have described as an “occult economy.”

This lecture will be chaired by Professor Charles Stewart, Professor of Anthropology at University College London.

Each of the Inaugural Lecture in Humanities will have an end of lecture collection for the speaker's nominated charity.  For this lecture Professor Hamilakis has chosen to support UNHCR (For the refugees currently entering Europe through Turkey and the Aegean).

Speaker information

Professor Yannis Hamilakis,Professor in Archaeology

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