Entanglements Between Social and Biological Realities: Bioarchaeological Theory and Case Studies on Embodiment and Structural Violence, a talk by Harvard Archaeology Seminar Series, a talk by Haagen Klaus (George Mason University)


Thursday, April 7, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm



ABSTRACT:      How do human being really interact with our social worlds? Can our lived experiences physically change us -- and become literal parts of our visceral, flesh-and-blood bodies? In recent years, a theoretical “awakening” has been unfolding in bioarchaeology, as a so-called fourth wave of theory-building has been materializing along the horizons of the discipline. These involve diverse and deep engagements with multiple forms of social theory, from concepts of niche construction theory, intersectionality, life history theory, resilience theory, and more.  This talk explores intersections between the theory of structural violence and that of “embodiment.”  Through three contextualized case studies human skeletons from the late pre-Hispanic and Colonial periods of the north coast of Peru, archaeological, ethnohistoric, and bioarchaeological evidence, it is argued that deeply embedded, normalized, and every-day patterns of behavior, action, politics, socioeconomic inequality, and racism are directly translated along specific pathways into a literally biologically incorporated form (including within skeletal biology). Such biocultural entanglements see the subtle violence of inequality insidiously becomes biological and produces tangible and intangible irreparable harms that reach across generations.  The talk closes with considerations for future directions in structural violence, embodiment theory, and other forms of social engagement in bioarchaeological practice.

BIO:      Haagen Klaus is a native of Long Island, New York.  He received a BA in anthropology from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2003, an MA in anthropology in 2003 from Southern Illinois University, and his Ph.D. in anthropology from The Ohio State University in 2008.  Haagen first taught at Utah Valley University from 2008-2013, and then joined the faculty at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he is currently an associate professor.  Since 2003, he has directed the Lambayeque Valley Biohistory Project in Peru.  Haagen has been an author or co-author of nearly 30 journal articles, over 70 conference presentations, guest edited two special issues of the International Journal of Paleopathology, and is the editor/author of four books. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Biological Anthropology.


Online via Zoom (click here to Join on April 7th at Noon EDT)

You do not need to register for this seminar