A talk by: Alice Yao
Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Chicago
The Great Wall of China is an iconic and salient reminder of China’s long history of empire building. When there are no recoverable walls or big infrastructures to speak of, what is an archaeologist of empires to do? This presentation considers what the political might look like in light of material ruins of a more pedestrian kind and as represented by ongoing excavations of drinking wells in colonial sites in Yunnan China. What can these artifacts tell us about the materiality of water and how environmental knowledge is produced?
Alice Yao is an anthropological archaeologist who received her PhD from the Museum of Anthropology of the University of Michigan in 2008. An associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, she is the author of "The Ancient Highlands of Southwest China: An Archaeological History from the Bronze Age to the Han Empire" (Oxford University Press) and the forthcoming monograph, “Archaeologies of the Han Empire” (Cambridge University Press), co-authored with Wengcheong Lam. Her fieldwork uses material and paleoenvironmental records to examine Bronze Age political systems in Yunnan, early foundations of the Southern Silk Roads, and Han colonial expansion.