In this new series, Things in Theory, 3CT co-director Shannon Lee Dawdy engages scholars from different disciplines who work at the intersection of material culture studies and contemporary theory. Through dialogue and audience participation, this new format seeks to transcend academic genres and connect diverse publics. What role do objects, architecture, and landscapes play in social and political life? What happens when we take things seriously?
Here, Dawdy speaks with Jeremy F. Walton, who leads the Max Planck Research Group, “Empires of Memory: The Cultural Politics of Historicity in Former Habsburg and Ottoman Empires,” at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen). “Empires of Memory” explores and interrogates the material legacies and collective memories that render imperial pasts remarkably present throughout central and southeast Europe and the Middle East. His upcoming European Research Council project, “REVENANT—Revivals of Empire: Nostalgia, Amnesia, Tribulation,” expands this purview to include the afterlives of the Russian Empire, with a focus on the persons, places, and things that embody bygone empires today.
Jeremy F. Walton is a cultural anthropologist whose research resides at the intersection of memory studies, urban studies and the comparative study of empires and imperialism. Dr. Walton received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2009. His first book, Muslim Civil Society and the Politics of Religious Freedom in Turkey (Oxford University Press, 2017), is an ethnography of Muslim NGOs, state institutions, and secularism in contemporary Turkey. Prior to his current position, he held research and teaching fellowships at the Center for Advanced Studies of Southeastern Europe at the University of Rijeka, the CETREN Transregional Research Network at Georg August University of Göttingen, Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, and New York University’s Religious Studies Program. He has published his research in a wide selection of scholarly journals, including American Ethnologist, Sociology of Islam, The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, Die Welt Des Islams, and History and Anthropology. He is also the co-editor of several volumes, including Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and Art and Politics in the Modern Period (University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2019). “Empires of Memory,” which he designed, is an interdisciplinary, multi-sited project on post-imperial memory in post-Habsburg and post-Ottoman realms. In late 2021 or early 2022, he will inaugurate the research group “REVENANT—Revivals of Empire: Nostalgia, Amnesia, Tribulation” at the University of Rijeka, with support from a European Research Council consolidator grant (#101002908).