University of Virginia: Archaeology Brown-Bag Workshop

Archaeology Brown-Bag Workshops provide an informal, interdisciplinary venue for presentations of work in progress by students, faculty, and visiting scholars, and for discussion of developments in the recent archaeological literature. Plus there is free food and drink. Workshops convene more-or-less tri-weekly on Fridays at 4:00-5:30 in the conference room on the second floor of Brooks Hall, unless otherwise noted below.

Want to volunteer a talk or discussion topic? Email Adria LaViolette, or Fraser Neiman.
Spring 2018
Feb. 2
The Vital Dead: Making Meaning, Identity, and Community through Cemeteries. Alison Bell, Department of Anthropology, Washington and Lee University, and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Abstract. In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and well beyond, profound changes are underway in cemeteries: grave markers are still etched with images of bibles and flowers, but motorcycles, monsters, cats, and footballs are also appearing. Inscriptions ("Gone Hunting for the Lord" or "Had a Good Ride") and objects lefts on grave sites — bird feeders, whirligigs, letters to the deceased — echo this florescence. The Vital Dead, a book VFH fellow Alison Bell is writing under contract with the University of Tennessee Press, interprets these movements largely as a struggle against alienation, with people weaving loved ones into social webs that transcend the grave. The dead are vital both because they’re often imagined as cognizant, lithe, and accessible (if invisible), and also because they’re central to the creation of identity and community among the living. Because these sites of memorialization allow the visible championing of particular cultural values, they are also windows into historic as well as contemporary claims and counterclaims to visions of the future. Bell, who teaches anthropology at Washington & Lee University, will provide an overview of the book manuscript generally, and then specifically discuss case studies of African American burying grounds in the Valley.
March 23
Archaeological Excavations in Monticello's First Kitchen. Beatrix Arendt and Crystal Ptacek, Archaeology Department, Monticello.

Abstract. From about 1770 to 1809, when it was buried under three feet of fill, the basement room in Monticello's South Pavilion served as the mansion's first kitchen. Recent excavations in this space have produced exciting new discoveries about its layout and use, including the remains of a stew stove that was almost certainly used by enslaved chef James Hemings after four years of culinary training in Paris. We describe our findings and the ways in which they are advancing our understanding of the changing landscape of slavery at Monticello.
April 6
Ranching, Rendering, Hunting, and Hides: A Zooarchaeology of Colonialism. Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland.

April 24
Special Event
Religion and landscape in the Minoan and Recent Past. Evangelos Kyriakidis, Senior Lecturer, University of Kent. Sponsored by The Charlottesville Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America. 5:30 pm. Campbell 153 in the Architecture School Building (free parking available at nearby Culbreth Garage).

April 27
Archaeological Sites as Contested Landscapes: A case-study from Central Turkey Sevil Baltali, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Istanbul Technical University.

Abstract. Archaeological ‘sites’ are often integral elements of everyday performance, imagination, history, memory, temporality and identity of local people living near them. They are part of the local people’s landscape in a platial sense imbued with multiple meanings. For the local communities living near the archaeological excavations at Kerkenes (central Turkey), the presence of mostly “foreign” archaeologists, their “scientific” praxis, the knowledge they produce and the findings from non-Muslim periods have triggered the reflexive re-evaluation of the significance of the place’s past, together with renewed engagement with the activity of counter-narrative and memory production. These engagements with the past become part of the process of present place and identity making, triggered by the archaeological project. The local community’s questioning perception of the “foreign” archaeologists, and their critical engagement with archaeologists’ scientific representations of the past, lead to conflicting political tension with their own more embodied and relational memory and experience of the place, turning the archaeological site into a contested landscape for the local struggle of representation.
Past Semesters
For topics and speakers from past semesters, click here.