Comparative ethnology and archaeology

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Mark Collard
Canada Research Chair and Professor, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Friday 3 August 2018
In conjunction with Sydney Ideas

Comparative ethnology is the practice of comparing and contrasting the features of large samples of human societies. Also known as cross-cultural analysis, it has a long association with archaeology. For example, the pioneering archaeologist Augustus Pitt Rivers was also an exponent of comparative ethnology. Similarly, the career-capping book of the most influential archaeologist of the second half of the 20th century, Lewis Binford, is a work of comparative ethnology. However, comparative ethnology has never been considered a key archaeological tool. In this talk, I will argue that it should be. Drawing on my own work and that of colleagues, I will show that there are both theoretical and practical reasons for archaeologists to enthusiastically embrace comparative ethnology. Adding it to the techniques that we expect archaeology undergraduate students to know will enable the discipline to make faster progress with the task of making sense of the patterns in the archaeological record.

Mark Collard is an evolutionary anthropologist based at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Friday 3 August 2018
Law School Foyer
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*The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Nicholson Museum

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Professor Peter Hiscock