Monday, January 6, 2014

Lightning in Pre-Columbian, Colonial and Contemporary Cultures - Dr. John E. Staller

The CAS is thrilled to usher in the New Year with Dr. John E. Staller as our January guest speaker! Dr.
Staller is an archaeologist specializing in Pre-Columbian Latin America. Much of his research is related to the prehistory of the Andes and Mesoamerica. Specializations include, the culture history, evolution and spread of maize, ancient mythology and religious ideologies, political economies, ethnohistory, and the history of archaeological science. Dr. Staller is a professor of anthropology, archaeologist, writer, editor, distinguished lecturer, former Research Associate at the Field Museum, and a Fulbright scholar.

Among his many publications, you may want to check out his 2013 book “Lightning in the Andes and Mesoamerica: Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Contemporary Perspectives,” coauthored with Maya linguist, Brian Stross. Lightning, and the surprising ways that it is embedded in the very distinctive Inca culture and worldview, will be part of the focus of his CAS presentation! Staller will also discuss how colonial imperialism and the Catholic Church transformed traditional indigenous rituals, rites and symbolic associations surrounding lightning.

All of us who attend CAS meetings are lifelong learners—oh sure, the cookies, coffee, and good company are also a draw! Often it seems that we must seek knowledge to gain it, but once in awhile it comes, at least somewhat, by way of serendipity. An example of this is that Dr. Staller’s current research on lightning revealed a new understanding of his dissertation research. A case of another piece of the grand puzzle falling into place! His doctoral research was on Early Formative Period (3500-1500 B.C.) occupations in southern coastal Ecuador and on his excavations at a ceremonial mound. There he found pottery, early ceramic bottles, and ritual offerings. While carrying out research on “lightning veneration,” he realized that the early spread of ceramic technology, maize, and certain species of marine shellfish were associated with an archaic form of lightning veneration centered in southern highland Ecuador and northern highland and coastal Peru. Come hear more about his work and discoveries. Dr. Staller is an engaging scholarly storyteller and is sure to entice you into wanting to learn everything you can about lightning in Latin America!

Please join us Sunday, January 26th at 3 p.m. in the Evanston Public Library 1st floor meeting room for a lively discussion with Dr. John Staller! Invite a guest! And don't forget about dinner after the meeting at Dave’s Italian Kitchen—on Chicago Avenue, which is around the corner from the library.

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