Lynn Meskell will be coming to speak at the Indigenous Arts in Transition Seminar Wednesday, April 20, 2010, on “Heritage as Therapy: The Materiality of Uplift in Post-Apartheid South Africa.”

Lynn Meskell is the Director of the Stanford Archaeology Center and Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, where she has taught since 2005. She received her B.A. from the University of Sydney in Australia and Ph.D. from the Cambridge University in England. She has taught at Columbia University, New York and Oxford University, Warwick University and Birkbeck College in the U.K. She has been the recipient of numerous academic awards and fellowships, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship (2004-8), a National Endowment for the Humanities Residential Fellowship from the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2002), and a Research Fellowship from the National Research Foundation of South Africa (2002). Dr. Meskell has also conducted fieldwork at the Amheida in Egypt, Monte Polizzo in Sicily, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Catalhöyük, Turkey.

Dr. Meskell is the author of Archaeologies of Social Life: Age, Sex, Class Etcetera in Ancient Egypt (1999); Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt (2002); Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present (2004); The Nature of Culture in the New South Africa to be published with Duke University Press; and, with Rosemary Joyce, co-author of Embodied Lives: Figuring Ancient Maya and Egyptian Experience (2003). She is the editor of Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (1998); Archaeologies of Materiality (2005); Cosmopolitan Archaeologies (2009); and co-editor of Embedding Ethics with Peter Pels (2005) and Companion to Social Archaeology (2004), winner of Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Titles for the Year award. She is the series editor for the Blackwell’s Studies in Global Archaeology.

Lynn Meskell’s talk is entitled “Heritage as Therapy: The Materiality of Uplift in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” South Africa is a powerful site for heritage making, from the romanticism of the Rainbow Nation and African Renaissance rhetoric plied by politicians like Mandela and Mbeki to the rallying cries for reconciliation and restitution through a healing past. For the new democratic nation, looking forward first requires looking back. A material past, rather than material nature, would in fact provide ‘unity in diversity’, as the national motto proclaimed in the now unspoken !Xam language, !ke e: ǀxarra ǁke. In this talk Professor Meskell argues that since 1994 the state elided deep history in the public sphere beyond monumental facades and slogans, resulting in ethnic tensions, violent xenophobia and a failure to combat issues race and poverty. In the decade after apartheid’s demise heritage has been liberalized, privatized and increasingly naturalized. The politics of therapy and social cohesion have given way to stringent neoliberalism under the ANC: heritage would have to pay for itself rather than constitute the vehicle for empowerment and development.

Please RSVP above and join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.