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“The Measure of Civilization: the Revival of Long-term, Large-scale Quantitative Comparison” by Prof. Ian Morris

Thursday, January 17 at 5:00pm - the Stanford Archaeology Center is hosting this workshop. The event will be in Bldg. 500 in the Archaeology Center Seminar Room. Snacks at 5:00pm; workshop begins at 5:15pm.

In the mid and late 19th century, evolutionists of all kinds proposed ways to measure how societies developed over the long run, but—largely because no one knew very much about prehistory—their efforts collapsed. In the mid 20th century, after decades of accumulating archaeological and ethnographic data, social scientists tried again—only for their attempts to collapse in the face of theoretical objections. I suggest that it is now time to have another try. Rather than making measurement an end in itself, as the designers of earlier indices often did, I propose designing custom-built indices to answer specific questions. I tackle one of the bitterest debates among world historians, over the causes of Western (i.e., West European and North American) domination of the planet in the last 200 years, and try to resolve it with the help of an index measuring social development in eastern and western Eurasia across the roughly 15,000 years since the end of the last ice age.
Ian Morris is Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History at Stanford Universi-ty, where he has served as Director of the Archaeology Center, Chair of Classics, and Sen-ior Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences. He has directed digs in Greece and Italy and has published 11 books on Iron Age Greece and world history. His most recent book,
 Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of history, and What they Reveal About the Future (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2010), was translated into twelve languages, won three literary awards, and was named as one of the best books of the year by the  New York Times, The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, Nature, and the Lon-don Evening Standard. His next book, The Measure of Civilization, will be published by Princeton in January 2013, and he is now writing a book on war. He is a Fellow of the Brit-ish Academy.