Fall 2017 Schedule

All events take place at 5 pm in Haskell 315 unless otherwise noted.  Please email Emma or Akiva for papers.
12th October Notes from the Field Pub Night at “The Pub” (Basement of Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th Street) at 5pm
19th October Francois Richard (Associate Professor, Anthropology) Leading a discussion on this year’s workshop theme of “Materiality”
26th October Kirsten Forsberg (PhD student, Anthropology) Presenting “Rendering the Visible Child: Examining Childhood through a Subadult Burial Context at Tombouze, Mali”
2nd November Ilona Zsolnay (2016-2018 Oriental Institute Postdoctoral Fellow and Penn Museum Consulting Scholar, Babylonian Section) Presenting in the LaSalle Banks Room, Oriental Institute“Judging a Cuneiform Tablet by its Proverbial Cover”
16th November Joe Bonni (PhD student, Anthropology) Presenting a chapter from his dissertation “Everything is Full of Gods: Representing Religion at the Edges of Empires”
30th November Omur Harmanşah presenting on “The Materiality of Isis”

IAW 2017 Call For Papers: Materiality

Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop: 2017-2018

Call for Papers: Materiality

The Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop is now accepting submissions for the 2017-2018 academic year. This workshop was founded as the primary point of substantive intellectual engagement for scholars interested in the method and practice of archaeology, and the nature of archaeological knowledge. The theme for the IAW this year is “Materiality”.

The IAW welcomes papers that broadly explore the theme of materiality: epistemologically, conceptually, or methodologically.  Recently, the concept of materiality has gained has found its way into much of contemporary archaeological literature, but its meanings are multiple and multiply contentious. “Material” and its capacities to serve as evidence of and create the conditions for human life of various sorts can be said to be an object of study for all archaeologists.  The ways in which the particular properties of material objects, created through the affordances of different materials, and processes of production, use and decay, interact with one another and shape human life is perhaps the most common appeal to this concept in recent literature.  The IAW invites case studies of this sort from scholars from various disciplines.  In other appeals to this concept, a more holistic reconsideration of the relationships between people and things is attempted.  In this vein, the IAW seeks to be a space where we can discuss all that “materiality” or “materiality studies” makes possible or forecloses: questions of agency, ethics, politics, co-constitutedness and “concreteness”, actor networks, infrastructure and decay, are all tangled up in questions of materiality.  Through readings of contemporary and foundational literature and case studies provided by our speakers, we hope to open constructive and direct conversations about this topic over the course of a year of shared investigation and collective thought.


How does using materiality as an analytic allow us to make the strange familiar or the familiar strange? How do “new” materialisms transform or reaffirm “old” materialisms? Where are lines drawn between materials, material culture, and materiality? What archaeological methods can be productive for thinking through these questions? What unconventional methodologies or practices can be generative in these considerations?  How can materiality figure into the ways in which we understand the written word and the writing of human history?  How does the analytic use of materiality redefine what it means to be a human in the world, particularly with regards to anything we might say is uniquely human?  How does it redefine the ideas of causality, intention, motivation, and choice?  Are these redefinitions that we would like to see and is materiality a viable and productive tool without them?

Scholars from any and all disciplines are encouraged to submit papers. Please also note that we embrace papers that touch on materiality peripherally, unconventionally, or experimentally.

If you would like to workshop a paper with us sometime next year, please send an email to Emma Gilheany (Gilheany@uchicago.edu) and Akiva Sanders (Sandersa@uchicago.edu) with the following information:

  • Paper title
  • Type of paper (e.g., dissertation chapter, MA paper)
  • An abstract of no more than 250 words
  • The quarter(s) in which you are able to present (if more than one, please list your preferences in ranked order).
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