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Erupting Ruins: Dialectics of the Urban Landscape


for Members

Erupting Ruins: Dialectics of the Urban Landscape

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wenner-Gren Foundation

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section


Using the examples of surprising — even disturbing — archaeological preservation in my field site of New Orleans, I explore what it means to understand the landscape as dialectical. Forgotten plantation houses beneath the city’s warehouse district and the sunken remains of bawdy taverns expose non-continuous series of ruptures, disasters, abrupt shifts, but also the unaccountable continuity of unconscious structures.

I argue that the urban landscape is comprised of compacted ruins that both structure and undermine present-day spatial experiences.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm.

Registration Pricing

This meeting is free, but you will need to register in advance.



Meredith Linn

Barnard College



Shannon Dawdy, PhD

University of Chicago

Shannon Dawdy is Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College at the University of Chicago. She is a historical anthropologist and archaeologist whose fieldwork focuses on the American South and Gulf of Mexico (esp. Louisiana, eastern Mexico, Cuba, 17th c.-present). Her first single-author book, Building the Devil's Empire, offers 'rogue colonialism' to explain how French New Orleans, and many colonies like it, functioned outside state controls. Current themes of research and teaching include: piracy and informal economies; aesthetics, affect, and sensoria; temporality; gender and sexuality; fetish and thing theory; death and disaster. She also continues to advise on earlier interests in race and ethnicity, food, colonialism, and urbanity. Recent fieldwork has focused on garden, market, and hospitality sites in New Orleans (Pitot House, Rising Sun Hotel, St. Antoine's Garden, Ursuline Convent). This work informs Dawdy's current book project called Patina: A Profane Archaeology of Romantic Things, which reconsiders the intimate relations of capitalism — between people as well as between people and things — with attention to temporality, gender, and affect. In 2010, Dawdy was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Travel & Lodging

Meeting Location

The Wenner-Gren Foundation

470 Park Avenue South, between 31st and 32nd Streets
8th Floor
New York, NY 10016