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Fourth annual anthropology lecture looks at rocks, stones and other vital things

Fourth annual anthropology lecture looks at rocks, stones and other vital things

Hugh Raffles is a professor of anthropology at Eugene Lang College at The New School for Social Research in New York City.

Raffles will deliver a special guest lecture today titled, "Rocks, Stones & Other Vital Things" as part of the fourth annual lecture hosted by the Department of Anthropology at York University. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Founders College Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College at 4:30pm.

Right: Professor Hugh Raffles

Raffles will speak about his new ethnographic project that explores the lives of rocks and stones. There are currently two central problems that anthropologists face. The first is familiar to anthropologists: What are the forms of life enacted by objects that, in the Western philosophical tradition, are commonly considered inanimate? The second, although related, may be less familiar: What can we learn from stones? Raffles explores these questions ethnographically, assuming that they are susceptible to empirical investigation. His research considers a limited set of cases, two of which are introduced in this talk: the ancient monuments of the British Isles and the Chinese "scholar's rocks".

Professor Jody Berland of the Division of Humanities and the Graduate Program in Communications and Culture, and Professor Peter Timmerman of the Faculty of Environmental Studies will respond briefly to the talk before discussion is open to the public.

Raffles' research and writing on the cultural and historical anthropology of "nature" explores connections among people, other beings and "inanimate" phenomena. He is the author of Insectopedia (Pantheon Books, 2010) and In Amazonia: A Natural History (Princeton University Press, 2002).

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Environmental Studies, and the Office of the Master of Founders College.

For more information, contact Margaret MacDonald at

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.