Rice University

Events at Rice

Lecture/Lecture Series

Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Speaker: Jeffrey Fleisher
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Rice University

O'Brien MDEM Guest Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
12:00 PM  to 1:00 PM

117  Humanities Building
Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

"An Archaeology of Ancestors on the Eastern African Swahili Coast, AD1000-1500"

In this talk Dr. Fleisher will explore the way that the ancient Swahili used material practices to construct and maintain social memory during the first half of the second millennium AD. He will describe a set of archaeologically-documented practices associated with tombs and graves in Swahili towns that indicate one way social memory was constructed, through the creation and ongoing commemoration of ancestors. In contrast to previous work that emphasized the way tombs symbolized authority, heredity and power, he suggests that an archaeology of the construction of ancestors can serve to denaturalize the power and authority of Swahili elites, and expose the way that the ancient Swahili began to conceptualize the past in new and novel ways.

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