Department of Anthropology

Stephen Houston: Sight, Darkness, Secrecy

Mon, February 6, 2012 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Stephen Houston: Sight, Darkness, Secrecy

"Light, Darkness, Secrecy: Sensory Complications in Maya Archaeology"

A public lecture by Dr. Stephen Houston, part of the Department of Anthropology 2011-2012 Seminar Series.

The human senses access and process stimuli from a variety of sources. This talk, which focuses on evidence from the Classic Maya, attends to the abridgement of one sense in particular, that of sight, and to the calculated withholding of input. For Classic elites, seeing was understood as a validating form of witness. It was also, it seems, a creative and inceptional act.  What then, did the ancient Maya make of darkness, invisibility, and further acts of withholding?  What was a “secret,” knowledge revealed to few, and how was withholding, showing, and seeing managed in the buildings and habitual spaces of the Classic Maya?  Evidence brought to bear will include glyphic texts, archaeology, more recent language, and the comparative anthropology of secrecy.

For more information, visit the Sensorium Seminar Series web page.


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