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CEAS Classroom Series with David Sneath: "Evolutionism in Historical Representations of 'Nomads'"

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 10:00am

David Sneath, Professor at Cambridge University


In East Asian history, nomads too often play the role of “the primitive.” Even when scholars think of themselves as the “good guys” for “paying attention to the marginalized,” too often the categories they use and the questions they ask reflect unquestioned evolutionist assumptions about how “nomads” relate to “sedentary civilizations.” David Sneath’s Headless State was a powerful critique of these evolutionist assumptions, one that is still timely and not fully assimilated by the field. I look forward to exposing Penn students to this critique and getting them to understand the real role of pastoralist peoples in history beyond evolutionist clichés.