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18:00 19 January 2012

Institute of Archaeology 75th Anniversary Lecture: History and the Pre: Perspectives on the Structure of Deep Historical Arguments


Darwin Lecture Theatre | Darwin Building (link Map)
access via Malet Place | London | WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Professor Daniel Lord Smail, Professor of History, Harvard University, Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of history at Harvard University, where he works on deep human history and the history and anthropology of Mediterranean societies. In recent years he has joined with others in developing a new kind of history that uses all the available sources for understanding the human past. His books include On Deep History and the Brain (2008) and, with Andrew Shryock, Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present (2011).

All fields concerned with the human past, including archaeology and history, make historical arguments. These arguments can be surprisingly similar in structure. This paper will explore a type of historical argument, common in recent writing about the past, that invokes the pre. The pre is a time-space located before history; it is a time of little to no change, a time of stasis, the “eternal standstill.” The pre, whose use has been accelerating in recent historical writing, is vital to certain kinds of arguments; it can be used to justify claims of revolution, accelerating change, or the invention of agency. But the pre also renders deep time invisible. This paper will offer a model for crafting deep historical arguments that does not depend on the invocation of the pre.


Kelly Trifilo
+44 (0)20 7679 7483 | k.trifilo@ucl.ac.uk


Institute of Archaeology 75th Anniversary Lecture

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