"The Work of the Dead" by Thomas W. LaqueurThomas W. Laqueur

Helen Fawcett Professor of History
University of California, Berkeley

Why Do We Care for the Dead?

Monday, February 5, 2018 at 4:30pm

Shalala Student Center, Third Floor, Activities Room North
Free & Open to the Public  |  Registration Required 

Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar
Sponsored by the Department of History's Speakers Series



Why do the living need the dead? And why do they care for their bodies? This lecture examines the deep historical anthropology of the care for the dead and how it figures in the origin stories of many civilizations; it will explore the question of the discovery of death.

Thomas Laqueur, Phi Beta Kappa LecturerThomas W. Laqueur is the Helen Fawcett Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests range from the cultural history of the body to the history of humanitarianism and of popular religion and literacy. Professor Laqueur’s scholarship has earned him numerous honors, including fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 2007 he received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award, one of the nation’s highest scholarly honors for significant contribution to the humanities. Professor Laqueur was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2015. His books include The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century co-edited with Catherine Gallagher (California, 1987); Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Harvard, 1990), which has been translated into more than a dozen languages; and most recently, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton, 2013). He writes for the London Review of Books and was a founding editor of the journal Representations.

Alan Mikhail

Professor of History
Yale University

Live Stocks: Animals and Economic Transformation in Ottoman Egypt

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Otto G. Richter Library, Third Floor Conference Room

Free & Open to the Public  |  Registration Required


Presented by the Animal Studies & Environmental Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Group


This talk offers a template for understanding how rural economies based both on animal wealth and the shared labor of humans and animals changed at the end of the eighteenth century to effect the global transition of early modern rural societies from subsistence to commercialized agriculture. Sidelining the roles of animals as agricultural laborers, means of transport, and sources of food, this transition led to the formation of large landed estates in which human labor came to dominate and represented a fundamental change in the energy regime of Ottoman Egypt—from animal power to human power—that set Egypt on a wholly new political and economic course in the early nineteenth century. Combining the literatures of human-animal relations, early modern agriculture, and Ottoman economic and social history, this talk argues for the importance of nonhuman histories in understanding global economic, energetic, and political transformations.

Alan Mikhail is Professor of History at Yale University. He is a historian of the early modern Muslim world, the Ottoman Empire, and Egypt, whose research and teaching focus mostly on the history of empires and environments. He has received many accolades for his scholarship, including the Roger Owen Award of the Middle East Studies Association, the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History, the Wayne D. Rasmussen Award of the Agricultural History Society, the Ömer Lütfi Barkan Prize of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, and Yale’s Gustav Ranis and Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prizes. Professor Mikhail is the author of Under Osman’s Tree: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Environmental History (Chicago, 2017); The Animal in Ottoman Egypt (Oxford, 2014); and Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (Cambridge, 2011). He is also the editor of Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford, 2013). He currently serves on the editorial boards of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization and the Palgrave Macmillan Series in World Environmental History, as well as the International Journal of Turkish Studies and Environmental History