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The central preoccupation of my research and writing is the role that the material world—everyday objects, representational media, natural and built landscapes—plays in our political lives. Our social worlds, from the ancient past to the modern present, are forged upon a dense thicket of objects, from the spaces and places we move through to the plethora of things that orbit around us. Yet rarely do we pause to understand how this material world has shaped our political procedures and values. This neglect is particularly surprising since at root, the two dominant political traditions of the modern era—liberalism and socialism—are as concerned to define our relations to things (or at least to property in the abstract) as they are to describe our ties to one another as fellow citizens. The canny recognition that in order to reshape the political community we must start by remolding our ties to the tangible world around us hints at, but does not explain, the depth of our entanglement with material culture. How did we arrive at this intimate relationship with a material world that in the last two centuries has attained unprecedented ubiquity and complexity? And what are the implications of this avowedly archaeological view of the polity for the way we understand the principles and priorities of political association? These are the primary questions that thread through my scholarship and my current research seeks to advance this broad project in theoretical, historical, and empirical terms.
For updates on the ongoing research of Project ArAGATS, see: http://aragats.arts.cornell.edu/.
Books and Edited Volumes
- 2015 The Political Machine: Assembling Sovereignty in the Bronze Age Caucasus. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
- 2012 The Archaeology of Power and Politics in Eurasia: Regimes and Revolutions. Co-edited with Charles Hartley and G. Bike Yazıcıoğlu. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- 2009 The Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies I: The Foundations of Research and Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia (with R. Badalyan and P. Avetisyan). Oriental Institute Press, Chicago.
- 2007 Social Orders and Social Landscapes: Proceedings of the 2005 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology. Co-edited with L. Popova and C. Hartley. Cambridge Scholars Press, Newcastle.
- 2006 Beyond the Steppe and the Sown: Proceedings of the 2002 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology. Co-edited with D. Peterson and L. Popova. Colloquia Pontica Series. Brill, Leiden.
- 2003 The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities. The University of California Press, Berkeley.
- 2003 Archaeology in the Borderlands: Investigations in Caucasia and Beyond. Co-edited with K. Rubinson. The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Publications at UCLA, Los Angeles.
- Forthcoming Geophysical Survey at Late Bronze Age Fortresses: Comparing Methods in Diverse Geological Contexts of Northwestern Armenia (with I. Lindsay, J. Leon, and C. Wiktorowicz). Antiquity.
- Forthcoming A Preliminary Report on the 2008, 2010, and 2011 Investigations of Project ArAGATS on the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia (with R. Badalyan, I. Lindsay, L. Khatchadourian, A. Harutyunyan, A. Greene, M. Marshall, B. Monahan, and R. Hovsepyan). Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan.
- 2012 ‘Yerevan, My Ancient Erebuni’: Archaeological Repertoires, Public Assemblages, and the Manufacture of a (Post-)Soviet Nation. In Regimes and Revolutions: Power, Violence, and Labor in Eurasia Between the Ancient and the Modern, edited by C. Hartley, G. B. Yazıcıoğlu, and A. T. Smith. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- 2012 The Caucasus and the Near East. In Blackwell Companion to the Archaeology of the Near East, edited by Daniel Potts, pp. 668-686. Blackwell, Oxford.
- 2012 The Prehistory of an Urartian Landscape. In: Biainili-Urartu edited by S. Kroll, P. Zimansky, U. Hellwag, C. Gruber, M. Roaf, pp. 39-52. Peeters, Leuven.
- 2011 Archaeologies of Sovereignty. Annual Review of Anthropology 40: 415-432.
- 2010 Project ArAGATS: 10 Years of Investigations into Bronze and Iron Age Sites in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia (with R. Badalyan and L. Khatchadourian). TÜBA-AR: The Turkish Academy of Sciences Journal of Archaeology 13: 263-276.
- 2010 Magnetic Survey in the Investigation of Sociopolitical Change at a Late Bronze Age Fortress Settlement in Northwestern Armenia (with I. Lindsay and R. Badalyan). Archaeological Prospection 17:15-27.
- 2008 Village, Fortress, and Town in Bronze and Iron Age Southern Caucasia: A Preliminary Report on the 2003-2006 Investigations of Project ArAGATS on the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia (with R. Badalyan, I. Lindsay, L. Khatchadourian, and P. Avetisyan). Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan 40:45-105.
- 2006 A History of Archaeological Practices in the Republic of Armenia (with I. Lindsay). Journal of Field Archaeology 31(2):165-184.
- 2006 Representational Aesthetics and Political Subjectivity: The Spectacular in Urartian Images of Performance. In Spectacle, Performance, and Power in Premodern Complex Society, edited by T. Inomata and L. Coben, pp. 103-134. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
- 2006 Before Argishti: The Roots of Complex Societies in Caucasia, Notes from the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia. In Beyond the Steppe and the Sown: Proceedings of the 2002 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology, edited by D. Peterson, L. Popova and A. T. Smith. Colloquia Pontica Series. Brill, Leiden.
- 2005 Prometheus Unbound: Southern Caucasia in Prehistory. Journal of World Prehistory 19(4): 229-279.
- 2004 The End of the Essential Archaeological Subject. Archaeological Dialogues 11(1): 1-20.
- 2004 Early Complex Societies in Southern Caucasia: A Preliminary Report on the 2002 Archaeological Investigations by Project ArAGATS in the Tsakahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia (with R. Badalyan, P. Avetisyan, and M. Zardaryan). American Journal of Archaeology 108(1): 1-41.
- 2003 The Emergence of Socio-Political Complexity in Southern Caucasia (with R. Badalyan and P. Avetisyan). In Archaeology in the Borderlands: Investigations in Caucasia and Beyond, edited by A. T. Smith and K. S. Rubinson. Cotsen Institute Publications, Los Angeles.
- 2001 The Limitations of Doxa: Agency and Subjectivity from an Archaeological Point of View. Journal of Social Archaeology 1(2): 155-171.
- 2000 Rendering the Political Aesthetic: Political Legitimacy in Urartian Representations of the Built Environment. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 19: 131-163.
- 1999 The Making of an Urartian Landscape in the Ararat Plain: A Study of State Architectonics. American Journal of Archaeology 103(1): 43-69.
- 1995 The Production of Space and the House of Xidi Sukur (with N. David). Current Anthropology 36(3): 441-471.