Events

September 1, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Foraging Societies in Pleistocene North America, Sept. 26 | Economic and Political Networks in Mesopotamia, Sept. 27

Dr. Henry Wright

Dr. Henry T. Wright — whose work spans many continents, from studying the first hunter-gatherer populations in eastern North America to the formation of state-level societies in the Near East, China and Madagascar — brings his research interests together in two talks at Ohio University.

He discusses “Foraging Societies in Pleistocene North America around 12-13,000 years ago” on Sept. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Bentley 227 and “The Emergence of Complex Economic and Political Networks in Mesopotamia” on Sept. 27 at Schoonover Center 145, with a reception following the talk.

Wright’s visit is supported by Sociology & Anthropology, Classics & World Religions and the Research Division.

Wright is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology from the University of Michigan, a MacArthur genius award winner, a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the Santa Fe Institute, and foreign associate of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wright is best known for his work on the formation of state-level societies in Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Here, he pioneered many methodologies to quantify the emergence of complex social organizations and the development of economic and political networks. After conducting many years of fieldwork in Iran, examining the first state administrations and urban economies between 4500 B.C. and 2500 B.C., his work was halted by conflict in the region. This led Wright to study the development of small hierarchical polities and later kingdoms in Madagascar. He currently works with Chinese colleagues in China to examine the early state formation in that region.

As a whole, Wright’s work involves a broad cross-cultural comparison of both primary states and pre-state societies to understand the origins of state-level social organizations. This work is aimed at understanding the factors that lead to governance, power, and complex social networks. On Sept. 27 Wright discusses the emergence of complex economic and political networks in Mesopotamia. In this region, Southern Iraq saw the rise of the world’s first identifiable state over 6,000 years ago. In a region still at the center of conversations about the role, definition, and identities of states and state power, Dr. Wright’s work helps to explain the emergence of such institutions around the globe.

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