November 14, 2022
David WengrowUniversity College London

Building on aspects of my earlier work with David Graeber (The Dawn of Everything), this talk will introduce a new collaboration with Forensic Architecture. We suggest an alignment between these two projects, which both seek to query the authority of state narratives by extracting counter-archives of information: respectively from the archaeological record, and from crime scenes. To explore this alignment, I will discuss the case of 6000-year-old settlements identified by archaeologists on the Bug-Dnieper interfluve, in modern Ukraine, which have been used to question the definition of “urbanisation” and the position of the modern state as a telos of human social development.

David Wengrow is Professor of Comparative Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL) and has been a visiting professor at New York University, the University of Auckland, and the University of Freiburg. His books include What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West (Oxford University Press, 2010), The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Princeton University Press, 2013), and The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (Penguin, 2021, co-authored with David Graeber). More recently, he has edited a series of essays entitled Image, Thought, and the Making of Social Worlds (Heidelberg: Propylaeum, 2022), and embarked on a new collaboration with Forensic Architecture, called Cities against the State.