The Enlightenment – An Idea of American Indigenous People?

The Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and CRC 1266 invite interested citizens to a public lecture and a panel discussion with bestselling author David Wengrow (“The Dawn of Everything”).

David Wengrow author photo 1 - credit Antonio Olmos - rights not cleared -
David Wengrow (Photo: Antonio Olmos)

Were hunter-gatherer societies of the Palaeolithic simpler than societies today? Are complex societies necessarily characterised by social inequality, as common developmental models of human history claim? British archaeologist David Wengrow and U.S. anthropologist David Graeber answer these questions with a clear “no” in their 2021 bestseller The Dawn of Everything (in German: Anfänge. Eine neue Geschichte der Menschheit). On 30 June, David Wengrow will be a guest at Kiel University, where he will present his theses in a public panel discussion with archaeologists from Kiel. On the same day, he will present research on the causes of slavery among early modern indigenous cultures on the Pacific coast of North America in a public lecture.

The panel discussion and the lecture are part of the biweekly colloquia of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 ‘Scales of Transformation’. On a broad, cross-disciplinary basis, both large-scale projects investigate the processes of change in prehistoric and archaic epochs and the roots of basic human processes, respectively, and what we can learn from them for the present and the future. “The book by David Graeber and David Wengrow has triggered intense debates in archaeology, anthropology and philosophy, but also beyond the scientific community,” says Kiel archaeologist Johannes Müller, spokesperson of CRC 1266 and ROOTS. “So we are very pleased to welcome David Wengrow to Kiel. The exchange promises to be very fascinating, even for non-specialists.”
David Wengrow is professor of comparative archaeology at University College London. His co-author, David Graeber, who died shortly after completing the book in late 2020, was a cultural anthropologist and most recently taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also considered one of the leading figures in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In their book, the authors argue that human societies have known every conceivable form of social organisation from their earliest beginnings. From this, they also conclude that even more complex forms of coexistence do not automatically have to be associated with major social differences. At the same time, they challenge common perceptions about the history of ideas and trace back thoughts of the European Enlightenment to indigenous peoples in North America.  

The book hit number two on the New York Times bestseller list, and the German edition made it to number one on the Spiegel bestseller list in early 2022.  
Interested citizens are invited to attend the panel discussion and the lecture. Both events will also be streamed live on the ROOTS YouTube channel. The events will be held in English, and registration is not required.

Event at a glance:

Panel discussion with David Wengrow, Berit Eriksen (Cluster ROOTS), Martin Furholt (Cluster ROOTS), Tim Kerig (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), Johannes Müller (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), René Ohlrau (Cluster ROOTS), Henny Piezonka (CRC 1266, Cluster ROOTS), Artur Ribeiro (CRC 1266).
Title: Have we progressed?
Date: Thursday, June 30
Time: 14:15
Location: Johanna-Mestorf-Hörsaal, Johanna-Mestorf-Straße 4, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Lecture with David Wengrow
Title: Slavery and its rejection among foragers on the Pacific coast of North America
Date: Thursday, June 30
Time: 16:15
Location: Audimax Lecture Hall C, Christian-Albrechts-Platz 2 (CAP2), 24118 Kiel, Germany
Link to livestream: here

The events in the ROOTS calender: here 

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