Institute of Archaeology


UCL Institute of Archaeology Gordon Childe Lecture 2023

17 May 2023, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

A black & white image of a man in a suit wearing glasses and smoking a pipe, holding a teddy bear, and leaning against an old-style car

This year's UCL Institute of Archaeology Gordon Childe Lecture, to be given by Rosemary Joyce (Professor of Archaeology, UC Berkeley), will take place on 17 May 2023.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Prof Kevin MacDonald


Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6
UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

'On not seeing like a state: Rethinking ancient Honduras'


Terracotta-coloured ancient pottery vessel with painted figure in red/brown/orange colours

Drawing on analyses of the visual culture of the ancestral Lenca of northwest Honduras, created in what archaeologists today call the Ulua style (ca. 500-1000 AD), this presentation explores the way social relations were shaped in a region where hierarchy was muted, where there is little evidence of absolute abjection of the kind taken as definitive of enslavement, or even of the less extreme forms of gender-based dependency treated as constitutive of some societies in neighbouring Mesoamerica.

It advances an argument that the anthropomorphic and anthropomorphized objects that are the products of Ulua traditional craft production created discourses about valued forms of being, both human and other-than-human, in a region where the social order has been characterized successively as non-state, pre-state, egalitarian, and heterarchical; and in my current work, as illuminated by theories of anarchic society.

I suggest that the kinds of visual- and object-relations and the social relations enabled with Ulua materials are not unique to this time and place, but form an example of less-recognized but perhaps quite common ways people once organized themselves.

The 'Welcome’ will be given by Kevin MacDonald (Professor of African Archaeology and Director, UCL Institute of Archaeology) and ‘Response’ by Ulrike Sommer (Senior Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology).

The Lecture will be followed by a reception in the A.G. Leventis Gallery at the Institute of Archaeology.

The event is ticketed, with pre-booking essential, via the link above. This is an in-person event and will be recorded.

Read more about previous Gordon Childe Lectures

About the Speaker

Rosemary Joyce

Professor of Archaeology at UC Berkeley

Rosemary Joyce's research is concerned with questions about the ways people employ things in actively negotiating their place in society, the lives and itineraries of objects, and the reframing of human engagement with the world in terms of materiality. Her special interests include materiality and the archaeology of inequality; gender, sex, and sexuality; cultural heritage policy; Central America and Mexico.

More about Rosemary Joyce