Institute of Archaeology Gordon Childe Lecture and Seminar 2016

Start: May 10, 2016 06:30 PM
End: May 11, 2016 04:00 PM

Location: UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre B40 (Lecture) & UCL Institute of Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6 (Seminar)

Institute of Archaeology Gordon Childe Lecture and Seminar 2016

The inaugural Gordon Childe Lecture and Seminar (previously known as the Institute of Archaeology Annual Lecture) will be given by James C. Scott (Yale University) on 10 & 11 May 2016.

The remit of the Gordon Childe Lecture is to take a broad view of its topic and make it interesting and relevant to both the general public as well as subject specialists. It is hoped that the eminence of the speakers will not only make this a well known event within the archaeological community, but will also significantly raise the profile of archaeology with audiences far beyond academia. The Seminar offers an opportunity for extended discussion on the themes raised in the Lecture.


James C. Scott is the Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, and Director of Agrarian Studies at Yale University. His research concerns political economy, comparative agrarian societies, theories of hegemony and resistance, peasant politics, revolution, Southeast Asia, theories of class relations and anarchism.

Professor Scott’s books have been widely influential across the historical and social sciences, and he is currently extending his interests to archaeology and prehistory. They include Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (2007) and The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist  History of Upland Southeast Asia (2009) both published with Yale University Press.


The Gordon Childe Lecture: A Brief History of Flight from the State

10 May 2016: UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre B40, 6.30pm start


Mountains, wetlands, swamps, marshes, deltas and even city slums have served historically as refuge zones for populations fleeing the state. Drawing on his (2009) book The Art of Not Being Governed, Professor Scott’s lecture will examine the principles of geography, subsistence practices, mobility, and social structure that abet both state avoidance and state prevention. His primary focus will be on “Zomia”: that portion of upland Southeast Asia that has, until recently, evaded incorporation into nation states and empires. But the designation “Zomia” could be metaphorically extended to other areas of the world that have become zones of state evasion. Furthermore, a history of flight from the state raises new questions about the earliest agrarian states in the Mesopotamian alluvium. To what degree did infectious diseases, captured labor, and taxes on variable grain harvests provoke state evasion and flight, as far back as the history of the state itself? How might a focus on state evasion change our understanding of later prehistory, as well as more recent periods?

These wider topics will be presented for the first time in Professor Scott’s Gordon Childe Lecture, and then explored through an advanced Seminar (to be held the following day) with contributions from staff at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, extending the debate to a variety of different world regions and periods.

The Lecture will be introduced by Sue Hamilton (Director, UCL Institute of Archaeology) and will conclude with a response by Rodney Harrison (Reader in Archaeology, Heritage and Museum Studies, UCL Institute of Archaeology). 


A wine reception in UCL North Cloisters follows this event.

The Gordon Childe Seminar: A Brief History of Flight from the State: Responses from Archaeology

11 May 2016: UCL Institute of Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6, 2pm start

  • David Wengrow (Professor of Comparative Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • James C. Scott (Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University)
  • Corisande Fenwick (Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • Dorian Fuller (Professor of Archaeobotany, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • Manuel Arroyo-Kalin (Lecturer in Geoarchaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Any enquiries about the Lecture or Seminar may be directed to Gail Hammond.