Vic: Worlds in Disarray – Prehistory and the Present

Event Details

The Late Bronze Age in the Mediterranean was arguably the first age of globalization in human history. This is most exemplified by the International Style of portable elite art objects that were widely circulated and prized by elites. It was also one of the first ages of social acceleration. This acceleration was characterized by a confluence of increasing technological and economic interdependency, the emergence of interconnected networks driven by the quest for raw materials, and by climate change. Thus, the Late Bronze Age was also an economically fragile era with a great concentration of wealth distributed among supra-regional global elite plutocrats unified more by wealth and shared symbolism than by cultural tradition or ideology. Finally, this era became susceptible to populist resistance in the form of piratical activity and banditry.

This lecture explores the populist aspects of the economy and social organization of the Sea Peoples as pirates and military entrepreneurs. In doing so, I will draw upon economic theory, pirate economics, comparative history and anthropology, connectivity, social geography, technological acceleration, and material hybridity, to suggest a broader range of categories for conceiving globalized elites of the present day.  This conception transcends ideology to cross-culturally and cross-temporally focus on aggrandized globalized concentrations of wealth and power (a plutocracy). This plutocracy can be contrasted with the xenophobia, and economic and social erosion fuelling the populist movements of the working classes.

Speaker: Professor Louise Hitchcock

Presented by: University of Melbourne

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Date: 21 May 2018

Time: 5:45pm reception, 6:30pm lecture (TBC)

Location: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne (Melbourne Campus)

Contact: Brenda Jackson