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2021 Edward Hagop Noroian Annual Lecture

Imagined Landscapes and Crafted Worlds: Spacetime and Natureculture in Medieval Armenia

Kate Franklin, Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in History, Classics and Archeology, Birkbeck University of London

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Hybrid event: Room 1010, Weiser Hall,
500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Or participate virtually by registering in advance for the webinar here.

After registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar.

Many ongoing discussions of how we might (how we must) live on a damaged planet with an uncertain future hinge on imagination. In particular, social scientists across disciplines are concerned with the problem of imagining lifeworlds of more than human kin, at timescales beyond our individual lifetimes. These challenges, of dreaming an ever-widening world and also caring about and for it, seem hypermodern; and yet, they were urgent and immediate to people living and working in Armenian cities, towns, and mountain valleys centuries ago, in the high middle ages (13th-15th centuries AD). Interdisciplinary archaeological research into the big and small politics of Armenians during this period reveals a profound concern for personal relationships with eternity, even (and especially) beyond the period of the Mongol conquest, described by Kirakos Ganjakec’i as ‘the end of time.’ This talk considers medieval Armenian world-making at multiple scales, from the intimacy of embodied selves to the expansive cultural world we now call the Silk Road. In particular, it will reflect on the ways that the commemoration of the self and the memory of landscape were tangled together, and how these might help us think otherwise about seemingly-separate worlds of nature and culture, past and future.

Kate Franklin is an anthropological archaeologist and Lecturer in Medieval History at Birkbeck University of London. Her work is focused most closely on Armenia in the Mongol period, and specifically engaged with techniques of world-making and Silk Road cosmopolitanism. Franklin’s dissertation (University of Chicago, 2014) centered on excavations at the Arai-Bazarjul caravanserai in the Kasakh Valley. Prior to her position at Birkbeck she taught anthropology, archaeology, war, and history at the University of Chicago as Dumanian Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Franklin has published on caravan infrastructure, medieval embodied politics, landscape, memory, and everyday life. Her book "Everyday Cosmopolitanisms: Living the Silk Road in Medieval Armenia," (University of California Press, 2021) is out and available in print and Open Access.