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Ancestors Lecture: A Natural History of Houses

Professor James L. Boone at the Maxwell Museum
Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 7:30pm
Hibben Lecture Hall 105
Free and Open to All
James L. Boone

The idea that the household is a fundamental unit of production and consumption in human societies, and that the activities that take place within it are aimed at ensuring its continued maintenance and survival into the future, has been around since the beginning of anthropology.  Over the past couple of decades, there has been increasing support for the idea that the household, with its spatial and economic focus around the hearth and fire as a means for transformation of food and materials, is a fundamental unit of human social organization with evolutionary origins with foragers deep in the Paleolithic past. Domestication—a term meaning “to bring into the house”--is central to the formation and maintenance of this ur-institution. This lecture discusses ways in which the House is the fundamental building block of complex societies and the social unit by which agency, identity, wealth and abundance is generated and expressed within a community.


James L.  Boone is Professor of Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. His interests are in the evolution of complex societies and evolutionary ecology with a particular focus on the energetics of conspicuous consumption.

The Maxwell Museum annual Ancestors lecture presents cutting edge research in evolutionary anthropology by Maxwell staff, UNM anthropology professors and scholars.  It supports and updates the Ancestors Hall exhibition at the Museum.

The Maxwell Museum is located at 500 University Blvd. on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Parking in surface lots and along Redondo Drive is free for this event