Seth Richardson

Seth Richardson
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2002
Teaching at UChicago since 2003

Seth Richardson is a historian of the ancient Near East who works in a number of different ways. His work on the history of Mesopotamia's Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000–1600 BC) primarily addresses political-economic questions: problems of infrastructural power, the nature of political subjectivity, and the role of institutional claims on bodies; it also entails work on the specific historical problem of the Fall of Babylon in 1595 BC. He also engages with theoretical questions of state sovereignty concerning legitimacy, territory, rebellion, membership, and state-society epistemologies. Richardson also works on problems related to the history of violence, including war-and-peace, but also on asymmetric, non-state, informal, symbolic, and community practices of violence. He is also committed to work as a generalist-comparativist, working on topics as diverse as liver divination, animal personhood, ancestor cult, icons and divine emblems, slavery, food security, labor value, taxation, and ancient historiography; and problems as specific as a disappearing princess, the long-lost name of a particular wine jar, and the social role of bandits. He is an Associate at the Oriental Institute and the Managing Editor of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies since 2011. Prior to this, he was Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History at the University of Chicago since 2003, having earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 2002.