Thinking from Things: Metropolitan Grandeur and the Emergence of Urban Archaeology in Paris and London (17th-20th centuries)

30 Apr 2015
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Stephane Van Damme
Professor of History of Science; European University Institute

Understanding urban localism, local identity through antiquaries is nothing new. From history of disciplinary archaeology (Alain Schnapp, The Conquest of the Past) to cultural history (Zimmerman, Excavating Victorians), passing by art historians and specialists of city museums, metropolitan archaeology could be seen as an attempt to concretize, to visualize, to materialize the ancient or medial origins of the metropolitan power, especially in cities like Paris and London, where antique pasts were not visible and where origins were plural, complex and disputed during several centuries. As anthropologists recently pointed out, urban archaeology as the science of origins, provides an imaginative power to restore the link between the ‘imagined community’ and a ‘territory’. As a science, archaeology is instrumental for securing new regime of proofs, evidence and certainty and re-scaling the city. Thinking from thing, as the philosopher of science and specialist of archaeology Alisson Wylie argued, offer new possibilities to materialize the Metropolitan Grandeur which should be seen on the one hand as a physical measure and standard and on the other hand as a moral and political value. By exploring and contrasting several sites Paris, London between mid-17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, I would like to stress the role played by archaeology between sciences and local politics in the making of a new metropolitan representation.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies • Office for the History of Science and Technology
Office for the History of Science and Technology

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