It has been recognized by many in the humanities and social sciences today that places continue to be significant sources of cultural identity, memory, and belonging for local communities, and since they are inherently fragile entities, they must be defended and carefully cared for in contexts of globalization and neo-liberal development. Places are deeply historical sites of cultural significance, memory, and belonging that are constituted by social practices, stratified material assemblages, and bodily interactions with the physical environment. Harmanşah will discuss political tensions surrounding places of power and cultural significance, between local practices and the political gestures of inscription and monumentalization by the imperial agents. He will also discuss the case of Anatolian rock monuments of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (ca. 1450-850 BCE) and suggest that places are often appropriated by political agents and drawn into large networks of domination in antiquity and today. A new archaeology of place is proposed in order to rethink places as eventful locales, by means of uncovering their cultural biographies and tracing geneaologies, while thinking about them as material assemblages.
Ömür Harmanşah is Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University, where he teaches Near Eastern archaeology, material and visual culture, as well as architectural and archaeological theory. He has been directing Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project, since 2010, investigating a small region in west-central Turkey and its changing cultural landscapes since antiquity. Harmanşah is the author of Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East, to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. His current research involves questions surrounding the cultural biographies of places and landscapes, public memory and indigenous knowledge, human interactions with the mineral world and the political engagement of archaeological field projects in the colonial and postcolonial contexts. He is currently working on a monograph on Anatolian rock reliefs and spring monuments, places of healing and miracle, and attempts to develop a new archaeology of place.