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The Carletonian

Marshall Sahlins delivers Frank G. and Jean M. Chesley Lecture

<ank G. and Jean M. Chesley Lecture was delivered by Marshall Sahlins, the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, on April 26 in Boliou Hall.

The lecture, which was entitled “Stranger-Kings and Stranger-Kin: The Alterity of Power and Vice-Versa,” addressed the idea of self-producing cultures verses the idea of societies and cultures influencing one another.

Over the course of his well-attended lecture, Sahlins examined a wide variety of historical encounters between indigenous peoples and interlopers, such as European colonists and explorers, to examine the “concept of culture as an autonomous whole.” The numerous examples that Sahlins presented illustrated his point that culture has evolved just as much in resistance to colonialism as it has with it.

Sahlins’ contributions to academia are well known at Carleton for, as the speaker who introduced him pointed out, “one Carleton student [I recently spoke to] had read Marshall Sahlins’ work in six different classes this year.”

According to the University of Chicago website, Sahlins “is presently doing research focused on the intersection of culture and history, especially as those play out in early-modern Pacific societies.”

Sahlins “recently published a book of his anthropological and political essays ranging from the 60s through the 90s, and is working on two others: a set of studies in history and historiography and a multi-volume work on “The Polynesian War,” a history of the great Fijian War, 1843-1855.”

The Chesley Lectureship was established in 1986 with the goal of bringing outstanding lecturers in the fields of math and science to Carleton College. It was named after Carleton graduates Frank Chesley ’36 and his wife Jean ’37. Though it was originally designed just to feature lecturers from those specific fields, the Chesley Lectureship eventually expanded to include lecturers from a wide array of fields, including the natural and physical sciences, mathematics, and anthropology.

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