Dr. Kathryn Denning
Kathryn Denning, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor, Department of
Kathryn is an archaeologist and anthropologist. At the broadest level, her research examines scholarly and popular ideas about Others, their relationships to us, and how we can know them. The Others she studies include the ancient (in archaeology), the animal (in zoos), and the alien (in SETI).
Most recently, she has been focusing on the scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence [SETI], particularly scientists’ conceptions of the alien Other. She is studying scientists’ reasoning processes (e.g. use of Earth civilizations and historical intercultural contacts as analogies), the technology and sites used to search the sky for signals, and ideas about how one might communicate with a radically different intelligence.
Much of Kathryn’s earlier work focused upon the ancient Other. Her research has addressed disparate ways of knowing, creating, and representing the archaeological past, and related topics in the philosophy of archaeology. The role of the past in the present is a recurring theme in her writing and teaching; she’s particularly concerned with ethics, power, and commodification in the treatment of cultural heritage. She is engaged by the possibility that meaningful and inclusive public dialogues about human history can help us cope with present and future challenges in our own civilization.
Through her work on zoos, she has been exploring ideas concerning the animal Other. She is examining convergent discourses about natural and cultural heritage preservation, and the changing rhetoric and practices of captivity.
Kathryn earned her BA (with honors) in Anthropology at McMaster University, Canada in 1992, her MA in Anthropology at McMaster University, Canada in 1994, and her Ph.D. in Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield, England in 1999.