The Semiotics of Religious Landscapes: An Archaeological Perspective

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Please join us for the 2024 Silver Medal Award Guest Lecture with guest speaker Professor Edward Swenson, Director of Archeology at the University of Toronto.

Anthropologists have long recognized that symbolically charged places of a religious nature exhibit a remarkable “semiotic density.” However, the interpretation of the semiotic affordances of ritual contexts in the archaeological record remains under-theorized.

Based on research conducted in South America and Southeast Asia, Dr. Edward Swenson compares the semiosphere of the Moche temple of Huaca Colorada, Peru (650-900 CE) with that of the royally endowed āśramas (monasteries) founded by king Yaśovarman I (889-910 CE) in ancient Angkor. The comparison demonstrates how an analysis of the sign properties of ceremonial architecture and related “structured depositions” can permit interpretation of the underlying meanings and intended function of past ritual practices. His approach relies on a semiotic investigation of the material manifestations of repetition, substitution, intimate parallelism, and accumulation characterizing specific building traditions and other archaeological remains, including burials and offerings.

Ultimately, Dr. Swenson analyzes the Andean and Angkorian religious constructions as exceptional spaces of semiosis, powerful machines in the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari that assembled distinct political worlds.

When: Wednesday, March 6, 2024 | 5:00PM

Where: Hagey Hall | Room 1104 

Cost: Complimentary

Reception to follow in PAS Lounge starting 6:30PM

Parking is available for $5.00 in Lot A, C and H

We hope to see you there!