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INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR FELIPE FERNÁNDEZ-ARMESTO WILL SPEAK AT BARD ON TUESDAY, MAY 8 "Fernández-Armesto is a superb storyteller. . .[you are] always sure of finding a new gem." Independent on Sunday, United Kingdom

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.- Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature, will give a talk entitled "Who's Civilized?" at Bard College on Tuesday, May 8. The program, presented by the President's Office and the Dean of Studies Office, is free and open to the public and begins at 5:00 p.m. in Room 115 of the Olin Language Center.

Fernández-Armesto, member of the Modern History faculty at Oxford University and international bestselling author of 12 books, including Millennium and Truth: A History and Guide for the Perplexed, would like to change the way we think about civilization. In his recent book Civilizations, Fernández-Armesto adopts a unique and groundbreaking approach to history based on the premise that the character of civilizations is best understood through an appreciation of their physical landscapes. Rather than period by period or society by society, he structures his work environment by environment.

He proposes that societies become civilized by taming and warping nature. In Civilizations he explores 17 distinct habitats and focuses on features that are familiar to ecologists, but also reflect the quality of life and source of survival in civilizations across ten millennia. Fernández-Armesto offers dozens of startling and illuminating juxtapositions: the maritime civilizations of Venice and Polynesia; the mountain cultures of Tibet and Papua New Guinea; the English and Iroquois.

Maintaining that the history of civilization is conditioned, not "determined" by environment, Fernández-Armesto also believes that civilizations thrive best when they straddle environments or occupy areas with a variety of soils, reliefs, and resources. He concludes that cultures can be ranked according to how civilized they are, and that on this scale, the culture of white westerners is low.

For further information, call the Dean of Studies office at 845-758-7378.

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This event was last updated on 05-02-2001