Lauren Ristvet

Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

20122013 Forum on Peripheries

Lauren Ristvet

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

On the Edge of Empire: Local Identities and Imperial Resistance in Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan

My project considers the dynamics of empires from the standpoint of the periphery through the analysis of excavations in Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan. The rise of empires was the most important sociopolitical transformation in Western Asia during the first millennium BC. Yet histories of Near Eastern empires rarely analyze how imperialism worked in the periphery. In contrast, I adopt a postcolonial perspective to investigate local and imperial processes. In so doing, I consider the topic of periphery broadly, focusing on how the Caucasus, peripheral to Western Asia and Russia, has been a site of both conquest and resistance. I develop a methodology that analyzes the role of material culture in political and economic negotiations, which I use to investigate the dynamic nature of imperial interaction in Azerbaijan.