CAS Graduate Student Conference:

Ancient Technologies: Their Matter, Materiality, and Materializations

26-27 February 2016, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Featuring Keynote Address by Denise Kimber Buell

The term technology often invokes images of the information-based e-ephemera of Silicon Valley, technologies frequently described as immaterial or as transcending their own materiality. Nonetheless, these technologies are very much material. In this conference, we seek to explore ancient technologies whose materiality is similarly overlooked. Acutely attuned to discussions of materiality occurring in Science, Technology, and Society Studies including New Materialisms, Actor-Network Theory, and Posthuman theories, among others, we aim to rethink the role and nature of technology in ancient societies. Beyond material innovations in transportation, writing, or warfare, we can see material technologies at work in the formation and construction of the self, ethnicity, the Gods, cultural memory, and the body, to name only a few examples. We hope to question entrenched assumptions surrounding the disembodied nature of power, intention, and agency by identifying, embracing, and reinterpreting their materiality and their dependency upon the technological. This is a call to explore the surprising presences and effects of past material technologies, to think broadly about the technological aspects of the material, and to consider the material aspects of overlooked technologies.  

Tentative Program

Sponsored By: The Center for Ancient Studies, Penn Museum, SASgov, Religious Studies, History of Art, Anthropology, AAMW, EACL