Catherine M. Kearns F'19

Catherine M. Kearns
Assistant Professor
Classics
University of Chicago

ACLS Fellowship Program 2019
Assistant Professor
Classics
University of Chicago
Unruly Landscapes: Environment and Society on Ancient Cyprus

Human relationships with changing environments—and their social and economic dimensions—have become sites of intense academic and public debate. In fields like classics and archaeology, however, assumptions of societal collapse caused by environmental crises or analyses that eschew humanity's rich ecological histories still prevail. This interdisciplinary project argues for a more critical approach to past human-environment interactions, combining archaeological, ecological, and historical evidence to posit how diverse communities formed in relation to unstable climates. It explores these relationships through the understudied island of Cyprus and its dynamic semiarid landscapes during the Iron Age, a period of dramatic societal growth in the ancient Mediterranean. Using different scales of analysis, from rural sites to regional markets, this research foregrounds the shifting landscape practices and perceptions of environmental change that became instrumental to new social formations and political economies. In doing so, it advocates deep historical study in current climate-society discourse.