NYAS Lecture 1/28: Urban (In)Equality and Materiality: A Global, Deep Time Perspective

It’s the beginning of a new year and the New York Academy of Sciences is back with another great installment of its lecture series starting on January 28th at 5:45 PM at its new location, Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. Dean Saitta, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Denver will be presenting, “Urban (In)Equality and Materiality: A Global, Deep Time Perspective.” Rita Wright, Professor of Anthropology at New York University, will act as discussant.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required. If you will be registering for an event for the first time, the New York Academy of Sciences will ask you first to set up a user account with them. Registration is free and does not require divulging personal or financial information.

Scholarly research suggests that the more inclusive and equitable a city, the more prosperous and sustainable it is overall.  Today, race and class-based segregations continue to plague cities worldwide. To remedy these inequalities, we need to look for new sources of ideas about urban planning and policy.  This talk considers the 6000-year history of city building as one such source. Ancient cities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are wellsprings of learning about equitable urbanism. They illustrate collective governance in the distribution of life-sustaining resources.  They demonstrate effective resource sharing across ethnic and ecological boundaries. They show how public space can accommodate the masses, delight the senses, and cultivate a shared identity and destiny.  Together, ancient cities tell some different stories about social being and belonging in urban contexts, and implicate alternative principles and pathways for building the equitable city.

About the Speakers:

Dean Saitta is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Denver. He teaches courses in urban anthropology, archaeology, and evolutionary anthropology. His research interests are in ancient city planning and design, comparative architectural and urban form, and North American archaeology. Professor Saitta is a co-author of “Denver: An Archaeological History.” Currently, he is  researching and writing about issues facing the contemporary city from an archaeological, historical, and intercultural perspective. Specifically, he focuses on how people of different cultural backgrounds interact with, and are shaped by, the urban built environment.  He writes a blog called “Intercultural Urbanism” and is a featured blogger at the public interest urban planning website Planetizen.

Rita Wright is Professor of Anthropology at New York University.  Her research interests include comparative studies of urbanism, state formation, gender, and cycles of change in ancient civilizations.  She has conducted field research in South Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and the Near East (Iran). Her research at Harappa included studies of ceramics and craft production and a regional survey of Harappan Settlement Patterns on the Beas River.  Dr. Wright is founder and editor of Case Studies in Early Societies (Cambridge University Press), editor of Gender and Archaeology, co-editor with Cathy L. Costin of Craft and Social Identity, and author of Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (2010, Cambridge University Press in UK/US and India.

A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk. Buffet dinner begins at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).

Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required.

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