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SUNY Potsdam to Host Anthropology Talk by Visiting Scholar Dr. Catherine Cameron

September 25, 2023

National Endowment for the Humanities Visiting Scholar Dr. Catherine M. Cameron to Present ‘Captives & Culture Change in Ancient Small-Scale Societies’ on Oct. 12 at SUNY Potsdam 

SUNY Potsdam will welcome the visiting scholar Dr. Catherine M. Cameron, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for a public talk on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m., in the Raymond Hall eighth floor lounge. 

Her talk, “Captives and Culture Change in Ancient Small-Scale Societies,” is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Development Program. This event is free, and the public is invited to attend. 

Of her talk, Dr. Cameron said: “Captives were remarkably common in ancient times. Societies of all levels of complexity took captives, most commonly women and children. Archaeologists largely overlook captives as social actors, yet captives brought new cultural practices and new ideas to many of the societies they unwillingly joined. Captives were also important sources of social and economic power for their captors, even in small-scale societies. Using cross-cultural comparison and analogy, I explore the substantial impacts captives had on small-scale societies. I emphasize that the presence of captives should disabuse archaeologists of ever imagining that small-scale societies were egalitarian and suggest ways we can investigate links between captives and power. 

About the speaker: 

Dr. Catherine M. Cameron is an archaeologist working in the American Southwest, who focuses especially on the Chaco Phenomenon. She has worked in Chaco Canyon, N.M., in Northeastern Arizona and currently works in Southeastern Utah. Cameron conducted excavations at the Bluff Great House site in Bluff, Utah as part of the University of Colorado field school. She is the author of Chaco and After in the Northern San Juan: Excavations at the Bluff Great House,”published by the University of Arizona Press in 2009. Cameron has also overseen projects in the Comb Wash area of Utah, undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management. She has long-term interests in prehistoric population dynamics and especially processes of abandonment and migration and has published books and articles on these processes in the Southwest and elsewhere. Her edited volume,Invisible Citizens: Captives and Their Consequences,”was published by the University of Utah Press in 2008, and an article "Captives and Culture Change: Implications for Archaeologists" was published by Current Anthropologyin 2011. She has served as a Weatherhead Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, writing a book on captives in prehistory. 

SUNY Potsdam’s NEH Faculty Development Program has supported interdisciplinary study and scholarly exchange in the humanities for more than 40 years. To learn more about research and faculty development resources at SUNY Potsdam, visit 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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