Transdisciplinarity: Independent Academic Initiative invites all interested to online webinar on:
Networking as a means of overcoming critical tensions in human development in the past
presented within a series of seminars entitled „Resilience in the context of permanent crisis„.
Carl Knappett (University of Toronto, Canada),
Informal institutions as resilient networks: lessons from archaeology
Moderator: Arkadiusz Marciniak (Adam Mickiewicz University)
When: March 2nd (Thursday) 2023, 5.00-6.30 PM CET
Abstract of the seminar Networking as a means of overcoming critical tensions in human development in the past
Man's past, seen in the longue durée perspective, covers long periods of linear development preceded by periods of breaking down the existing formulas of existence, rapid reconfigurations of the old order, and the creation of new conditions for development. The decades of the existence of archaeology, as an academically sanctioned form of social practice, have brought a number of proposals for recognizing the nature of such benchmark changes and grasping the direction of future changes. However, the iterations to date relating to these groundbreaking transfigurations are characterized by a certain one-sidedness as a result of adopting the Eurocentric view of the world. The aim of the seminar is to refer to the concept of the network, as a formula that allows for the reconceptualization of these breakthrough moments by taking into account the presence of a wide range of social actors, in addition to those conventionally evoked in archaeologically produced pasts, examining their relationships with things, and scrutinizing the conditions and mechanisms of building up identity and forms of being in the world. In order to achieve these goals, the usefulness of pre-scientific knowledge regimes and modern indigenous knowledge will be investigated. The potential of multispecies archaeology, animal studies, or nature-culture integration will also be put to the fore advocating the symmetry of relations between actors belonging to these different domains.
Adopting such a perspective will make it possible to challenge Eurocentrism as particularistic and seemingly more and more incompatible with the confessions of the present day form of grasping the nature of both the past as well as presence and future. It is also a call to reach for forgotten or previously neglected actors that, along with a suite of commonly called ones, can serve as the basis for the creation of such new modalities. When redesigning the past, one should at the same time postulate a more inclusive and different way of thinking about the future, here and now.
Abstract of the paper by Carl Knappett:
The use of network methods and concepts has flourished in archaeology over the past decade. In particular, the regional interactions that are so prevalent in almost all past societies are very usefully conceived and modelled as networks. But did such networks emerge bottom-up as a crucial mechanism for the survival of ancient communities, or were they imposed top-down by elites eager to benefit from trade? Or did elites take advantage of existing structures? We might expect these various scenarios to display different levels of resilience. And as archaeologists increasingly question the rigid typologies through which we have categorised ancient societies, and the hierarchical institutions typically assumed to have been central to the emergence of complex societies, the opportunity arises to imagine institutional creativity in terms of informal networks. I will explore these issues through a case study from Mediterranean prehistory, in which network methods are instrumental in allowing us to see more or less resilience in the ways ancient societies connect.
Carl Knappett holds the Walter Graham/ Homer Thompson Chair in Aegean Prehistory at the Department of Art History, University of Toronto. He has published widely on the archaeology of Crete and the east Mediterranean, material culture theory, and network analysis. Among over 15 authored and edited books are An Archaeology of Interaction: Network Perspectives on Material Culture and Society (2011, OUP), Network Analysis in Archaeology: New Approaches to Regional Interaction (2013, OUP, editor), and MaritimeNetworks in the Ancient Mediterranean World (2018, CUP, coedited with Justin Leidwanger). He is the Director of the Mediterranean Archaeology Collaborative Specialization at the University of Toronto, and for the past decade has run a fieldwork project at the site of Palaikastro on Crete.