2020 Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology, by Philip J. Deloria “New Pasts and Presents: Thoughts on Commemoration and Temporality”

The Anthropology Department hosted the 2020 Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology, by Philip J. Deloria, virtually on Thursday, December 17. Deloria presented the topic, “New Pasts and Presents: Thoughts on Commemoration and Temporality”.

Lecture Description: Commemoration touches simultaneously upon at least four temporalities: the moment of a life or event, the moment of a marker or text, the moment of an encounter, and the anticipation of a future consequence.  Commemoration interweaves (not always easily) issues surrounding remembrance, honor, values, community and power.  Is it any wonder that our memory work is so out of joint?  Names and statues, art and symbols—these things constellate around themselves multiple temporalities, shifting values, shaky memories, and new histories.  As figures of stability, they are deeply unstable.  Considering a range of cases—Mary Sully’s personality prints, Jacob Lawrence’s American Struggle series, sports mascots, the American Museum of Natural History’s Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt, campus re-namings, among others—this talk will contemplate the uncertainty of temporality that lingers amidst the seeming certainties of iconoclasm and commemoration alike.