Coming Soon – The Archaeology of Melancholy, Museum of the Mind, 6 April 2019


At 2pm on Saturday 6 April I’ll be at the Museum of the Mind in Beckenham to talk about ‘The Archaeology of Melancholy, or more correctly, how we might think about the relationship between people and things and space in the context of melancholy. The talk is part of the public programme of the museum’s current exhibition The Anatomy of Melancholy, a revisiting of Robert Burton’s 1621 book of that name. I think that in archaeology we can use melancholy in different ways, but I will probably focus on how the intersections of people and things or people and spaces can inspire melancholy, and how we can use that melancholy as a productive force in getting by in the world. My blurb on the museum website is as follows:

Central to archaeology is how people exist alongside objects and within space, and in these and other human relationships there is plenty of room for melancholy; as an interpretation, as a condition, as a result even of how we think with things and therefore a potential outcome of archaeological processes of all kinds. In this mobile investigation I will discuss three scenes. The first is a person holding an object. Any person, any object. How does our encounter with the materiality of things create melancholy in us? Can objects themselves be melancholy? Next is a person sitting alone in a room. Space can mean security and it can be a threat. How do spaces and the way we move in them affect us? Lastly, us, now, here, standing between the past and the future. How can we even begin to think about the enormity of the entire past and future of the world and how can we use melancholy to our advantage in doing so?

Come along, it’s free! Tickets available here:

Please ignore, if you can, the typo in the URL. I didn’t do it!



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