75th Anniversary Lecture announced

3 October 2011

Professor Daniel Lord Smail

The Institute's Annual Lecture, inaugurated as the Institute of Archaeology 75th Anniversary Lecture in 2012, will be given by Daniel Lord Smail (Professor of History, Harvard University) at UCL on 19 January 2012.

"History and the Pre: Perspectives on the Structure of Deep Historical Arguments"


All fields concerned with the human past, including archaeology and history, make historical arguments. These arguments can be surprisingly similar in structure. This paper will explore a type of historical argument, common in recent writing about the past, that invokes the pre. The pre is a time-space located before history; it is a time of little to no change, a time of stasis, the “eternal standstill.” The pre, whose use has been accelerating in recent historical writing, is vital to certain kinds of arguments; it can be used to justify claims of revolution, accelerating change, or the invention of agency. But the pre also renders deep time invisible. This paper will offer a model for crafting deep historical arguments that does not depend on the invocation of the pre.

  • Location: UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre
  • Start time: 6pm
  • Drinks reception: Wilkins North Cloisters, following the lecture
  • All welcome
Shell beads

Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of history at Harvard University, where he works on deep human history and the history and anthropology of Mediterranean societies. In recent years he has joined with others in developing a new kind of history that uses all the available sources for understanding the human past. This evidence ranges from genes and languages to artifacts, fossils, and texts. History, in this emerging paradigm, is not a political science designed to explain the present. It is an anthropological science designed to help us understand ourselves. His books include On Deep History and the Brain (2008) and, with Andrew Shryock, Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present (2011).

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