Franz Boas Seminar by Laurent Oliver

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - 4:10pm
963 Schermerhorn Extension
Franz Boas Seminars

Cultural heritage and Archaeology in the age of Anthropocene
Dr. Laurent Olivier
Musée d’Archéologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France)
e-mail :

The times are over, when the gap between natural processes and human activity – between nature and culture, societies and environments – was once clear and obvious. Since, at least, the “Great acceleration” of the mid-20th Century, we have entered a new era, during which environmental changes, occurring at a scale previously unknown, are never more purely natural. They are the result of the growth of a hybrid monster, simultaneously natural and artificial. In other words, things and places are never more the same: they are not any more what they were supposed to be. “Non-human” entities act and react to what we do; being never more basically “a-cultural” or “an-anthropic”. Working in the present, these “beings” are not just acting – they are building as well, accumulating along the course of time what has to be called a form of material memory. The world, even made of simple matter, is living, being confronted to a terrible age, which has been called Anthropocene: an Age of Devastation, of physical destruction of material memory. What does mean “heritage” from now on: what is this; what is this for? And what does it mean “saving”, “protecting” or even just “caring” what we keep calling “archaeological heritage”? The best of the Anthropocene is indeed still to come.

Reception follows in the Anthropology Department Lounge, Room 465 Schermerhorn Extension