Questioning Abandonment: Landscape Ethnoarchaeology in Highland Valencia Spain

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Date: March 4, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Faculty/Administration #2339 | Map
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lecture

The Humanities Center is proud to present as part of its Brown Bag Series, a talk by Thomas Killion, Anthropology, Associate Professor,



Living in Detroit, “abandonment” becomes a familiar if tiresome trope, particularly to residents, who question use of the term at all! Abandonment obscures temporal and spatial scales and sensationalizes the interpretation of landscapes and explication of culture and environment as components of long-term interactive processes. Our work in Valencia, inspired by dispersal from Detroit, examines mass migration from rural Spain in the 20th century. Questioning abandonment has evolved to an assessment of sustainability featuring the stories of people who walked away from highly productive village life just as the “golden age” of agriculture and terracing reached a zenith at the end of World War II. We focus, not on the life people moved to on the urban coast but on the complex system that unraveled in the highlands; from ruined irrigated gardens that once provided vegetables for villagers and fodder for animals to tumble-down terrace fields that climbed to mountain tops and provided olives, wine and bread for the table and a surplus for export. Narratives of abandonment provide compelling historical background to green shoots of resurgence today as the landscape fills with wind turbines, solar farms, hiking and biking trails, new country homes for refugees of sweltering summer heat on the coast, and a host of alternative approaches to farming, preserving heritage and carrying on the millennia-long tradition of life in the highlands of the western Mediterranean.


These talks are free and open to the public! We also provide free coffee, tea and cake!


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