Cities are paradoxically resilient: even the ones that eventually failed in ancient times were occupied for hundreds of years, and even the most fragile modern ones continue to be inhabited. Using an archaeological perspective, this lecture will examine the many ways in which ancient cities constituted resilient social and economic networks that provide a blueprint for our own sustainable futures. Such futures are not unproblematic, of course, because cities necessarily draw in food, water, and raw materials from the countryside. Urbanites’ comfortable assurance of resiliency can mask a neglect of rural needs and realities, resulting in significant and sometimes deleterious social, economic, and political consequences.
Discussant: Richard Leventhal, Executive Director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Monica L. Smith Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLAMonica L. SmithProfessor in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA
Monica L. Smith is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, where she also holds the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies. She is an archaeologist with research experience in India and Bangladesh, as well as Egypt, Italy, and Tunisia. She is the author of A Prehistory of Ordinary People (2010) and Cities: The First 6,000 Years (2019).