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UCL events news and reviews


How do you use your own body to understand past landscapes?

By news editor, on 15 May 2012

Those attending Professor Sue Hamilton’s (UCL Institute of Archaeology) inaugural lecture on Tuesday 8 May at UCL were treated to a tour de force of more than two decades of archaeological fieldwork engaging with the artefacts, sites and landscapes from Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, Puglia in southern Italy to the monumental landscapes of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in order to answer precisely that question.

Hamilton’s major influence in the field has been her unfaltering commitment to reconfiguring archaeology theory and practice as a form of ‘people work’.

At the heart of her innovative fieldwork methodology is the idea that archaeologists share something with the people whom they study – they inhabit the same landscapes and, therefore, can use their own bodies to generate multi-sensory theories about the past.

What does it feel like to walk to and from ancient sites in the landscape, what can you see and hear when inside or outside them? What can this tell us?


Why Classical Studies is important

By news editor, on 9 May 2012

Annette Mitchell writes about Professor Miriam Leonard’s inaugural lecture.

Is Classics important today? After studying ancient history for more than 10 years, many people ask me what can you do with it? And it is a question I often asked myself until I started reading Freud and got curious about all the references he made to antiquity. By sheer coincidence, when I was accepted for a PhD on this subject in 2007 Miriam Leonard was joining the Greek and Latin Department and she became my supervisor.

I had heard of her before, but I thought it would be a good move to read more of her work and rooted out a copy of Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Post-War French Thought (2005). This was the first time I really got a sense of ‘Reception Studies’.

‘Reception Studies’, as a sub-discipline of Classical Studies, not only covers how antiquity is received in future times, but also considers how antiquity is used to express important political, social, cultural questions in future times.

Professor Leonard’s inaugural lecture on 1 May, entitled ‘Tragedy and Modernity’, squarely honed in on this latter aspect. She explained how specific German philosophers have used Greek tragedy, in particular Sophocles’ play Oedipus Tyrannos, to express certain conditions, since the mid-1700s.

Professor Leonard mainly concentrated on Hegel and Freud, explaining how both used Oedipus Tyrannos to encapsulate what they believed to be the modern condition.


Where have all the nomads gone?

By news editor, on 14 February 2012

Alexander Tasker writes about Professor Sara Randall’s inaugural lecture, held on 7 February

Professor Randall (UCL Anthropology) colourfully illustrated extensive problems that colonising powers, tax-hungry governments and struggling researchers have had in trying to ‘count’ nomads across the African Sahel, and some of the myths that surround these often elusive groups.

Before this evening, Professor Randall was more familiar to us from the dynamic exchanges of her small-group seminars as part of the Anthropology, Environment and Development Masters. We were looking forward to seeing how her extensive experience and forthright style translated into the more formal Gustav Tuck lecture theatre: there was no disappointment!

The lecture started with a quote from Professor Randall’s own fieldwork – a Malian Tuareg reflected on the increasing need to build houses not solely for practical purposes, but to become visible. It was this concept of visibility that continued as a theme throughout the lecture.


The Social Impact of Climate Change: An Archaeologist’s Perspective

By news editor, on 6 February 2012

Review of Professor Arlene Rosen‘s Inaugural Lecture on 30 January by Dr Andrew Garrard (UCL Institute of Archaeology).

With increasing concern about global warming and climate change and its impact on future human generations, Arlene Rosen’s inaugural lecture as Professor of Environmental Archaeology was particularly pertinent.

In this elegantly structured and very well illustrated presentation, she discussed an archaeologist’s perspective on the impact of climate change on societies at various stages in the past, and their frequent social and technological resilience and adaptability to environmental change.