|T09. Theory for the Future
Cornelius Holtorf and Güneş Duru
|Archaeological theory is no longer defined in terms of a number of strong dichotomies that were prevalent during the second half of the 20th century: old and new, processual and interpretive, critical and scientistic archaeologies, to name but a few… The theme “Theory for the Future” will encompass sessions that explicitly seek to break new ground for archaeological theory.
We particularly encourage sessions that:
- include both junior and senior archaeologists from different parts of the world;
- create debate about the present and likely future status and character of archaeological theory;
- address topics that are globally relevant;
- draw on ideas published, at least in parts, in other languages than English;
- introduce new concepts and express new concerns for archaeological theory;
- discuss implications of established or emerging archaeological theories for various challenges of archaeological practice;
- take up the specific needs of future societies and how archaeological theory can contribute to meeting them.
Archaeological theory needs abstract presentations but it needs lively discussion even more. All sessions are therefore strictly required to include ample time for discussion. Session organizers are encouraged to enlist discussants followed by time for open debate. Plenary discussions and small roundtables are welcome too. Theory for the future means debate for the future.
Memory, Identity and Archaeological Heritage. Cultural Dimensions and Contemporary Practices of Re-appropriation of the Past
Organiser(s): Paulina Faba (Universidad Alberto Hurtado / Chile), Marie-Areti Hers (Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas / Mexico) and Victoria Castro (Universidad Alberto Hurtado / Chile)
What kind of relations, contemporary societies, construct with archaeological remains? What significance do these spaces and objects have for cultural memory? What place do the archaeological vestiges occupy in the ways of living the present and thinking the future? This session invites participants to develop these questions under a comparative perspective, by analyzing contemporary cultural significances of the archaeological remains in different socio-cultural contexts. In this regard, the session is proposed as an instance of deepening the discussion and reflexivity about the relation between memory, oral traditions and archaeology. Special attention is given to the impact of globalization, social transformations, connectivity, technology, tourism and cultural industries in the emergence of new ways of understanding, remembering and exposing the past. Through the interdisciplinary dialogue, particularly between Archaeology, Art History and Anthropology, the session seeks also to address the points of conflict, where sociocultural complexity and heterogeneous interests often come into play, affecting research practices as well as forms of valuing and making visible contemporary archaeological heritage. The session intends to offer archaeological, anthropological and historical perspectives to students and academics. It will be also of interest to researchers working in various aspects and disciplines associated with the topic of memory and cultural heritage. Participants will benefit not only from the information provided by the speakers, but also from the exchange of ideas between academics of different parts of the world about how to provide new directions on research and management of archaeological sites and cultural memory.
Keywords: Memory, Identity and Archaeological Heritage in the era of Globalization
The allure of the new vs the safety of the known. Archaeological perspectives on innovation and conservatism
Organiser(s): Shinya Shoda (University of York / UK) and Frieman Catherine (Australian National University / Australia)
Innovation and innovativeness are key research areas for understanding change in past societies; but, in general, archaeology has not engaged with these topics in a systematic way. This session will explore the process of innovation through archaeological case studies. We seek to understand not just where new things appeared or when they were adopted but more significantly what the driving forces behind their adoption were. The adoption of innovations happens differently in different places and, as yet, archaeologists have few models to explain the early phases and the underlying causes for people starting to do, make or use new things.
Moreover, we are also interested in better understanding where – and maybe even why – they reject them. There are many reasons why a society might choose to maintain a traditional way of life in the face of larger societal or technological changes, and these are rarely investigated by archaeologists. We invite papers which view innovation as a social process with many possible outcomes, and which grapple with the difficulty of investigating why and how new ideas, practices and technologies are adopted or rejected.
Tentatively, this session will include talks which take both scientific and interpretative approaches to the archaeological record, which range from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age, and which use data from Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and East Asia, and Australia. We welcome submissions which expand on these themes and which make use of data from other periods and places than already noted.
Keywords: Innovation, conservatism, diversity
A Future Archaeology of Senses?
Organiser(s): José Roberto Pellini (Sensorial Archaeology Laboratory / Brazil) and Dragos Gheorghiu (National University of Arts, Romania / Romania)
Our world is made up of phenomena, that is, there are no single, independent things in the world, no things with predetermined properties or pre-established identities, but only things within a phenomenon that is always relational. From the human perspective, phenomena and relationships are the result of an experience that is first and foremost sensorial, mnemonic and emotional. We are embodied beings and as such our world experience is a sensory experience. But despite the importance the senses have in our lives they still lie outside the interests of archaeology. Accepting only vision, official archaeology ignores sensory experiences therefore preventing researchers from imagining the Past by using models of the sensory relationship with the surrounding materiality other than the five senses of Western model. This is an epistemic and ontological violence because it takes away the ability of others to think differently. Developing an archeology of the senses is to propose a decolonized, alternative and libertarian archeology. As such, the purpose of this symposium is to discuss the role of the senses in archaeology, highlighting how people, collectivities and archaeologists, structure their world, their aesthetic, their moral and social standards, and their memory from the senses.
Dear friends of WAC This symposium is an attempt to discuss the potential of sensory archeology as an archeology that can decolonize both archaeological practice as the archaeologist. In this regard I ask you to consider the adoption of this symposium because we need to discuss how we in the West are wrapped with sensory systems that are exclusive.
Keywords: Sensorial Archaeology, Senses, Decolonizin
Organiser(s): Stefano Biagetti (Univ. Pompeu Fabra / Spain), Arthur J. W. Kathryn (University of South Florida St. Petersburg / USA), Zurro Hernandez Debora (IMF-Spanish Council for Scientific Research/ Spain) and Jorge Caro Saiz (IMF-Spanish Council for Scientific Research/ Spain)
Transdisciplinarity is key to current research in humanities and social sciences. Ethnoarchaeology, in its role bridging the archaeological past and ethnographic present, represents one of the earliest transdisciplinary research strategies in archaeology. Being generally considered as a subfield of archaeology rather than an independent discipline, ethnoarchaeology has developed a variety of approaches and methods testifying to its dynamism and vitality. In this session, we dare to engage in a constructive debate around the present and the future of ethnoarchaeology in its regional differences focused on debating theoretical issues related to transdisciplinary and problem-oriented research, application of new techniques, science and society issues. We discuss whether ethnoarchaeology is to play, once again, a pivotal role in the development of archaeological theory, paving the way to a renewed and more anthropologically oriented archaeology, or whether it is rather on an independent path, perhaps leading to more inclusive approaches and committed to the construction of new narratives about the present and the past.
Keywords: Ethnoarchaeology, transdisciplinarity, problem-oriented research
What do we mean by The Meaning of Archaeological Evidence?
Organiser(s): John C Barrett (University of Sheffield / UK) and Crossland Zoe (Columbia University / USA)
This session asks how archaeological evidence is understood to have meaning. Euro-American archaeologies often assume that such traces achieve meaning because an agency either encodes or decodes the material. The former might be a past human agency that arranged things according to some cultural order and the latter might be the agency of archaeology that establishes or speculates as to the cultural orders that have been represented by the material. But other agencies exist, and other forms of meaning exist, beyond coded representations. In this session we call for attention to semiosis broadly construed, particularly to non-representational forms of meaning. This includes attending to the agency of physical processes, as well as of plants and animals, and to processes of reproduction and evolution. We invite participants to consider how rethinking the material and biological dimensions of semiosis might encourage a reassessment of archaeological evidence and of our relationships to the traces that we draw upon to narrate the past. What challenges to recent “ontological” and “new materialist” approaches might be posed by a materially and biologically grounded semiosic perspective?
Keywords: Evidence, Semiosis, Meaning
Archaeologies of gender and sexuality: Where do we stand and where are we going?
Organiser(s): Jun Mitsumoto (Okayama University / Japan), Naoko Matsumoto (Okayama University / Japan) and Mary Weismantel (Northwestern University / USA)
This session aims to explore current archaeological theories and practices concerning gender and sexuality, and discuss its prospects for the future. We seek papers of both theoretical and practical approaches from global and multivocal perspectives on gender and sexuality. Archaeologies of gender and sexuality have developed for about thirty years on various aspects of gender related themes, such as gender roles, symbolism and sexuality, based on multiple theories from diverse positionalities. The theories include feminist, gender, queer, and other related theories and themes in archaeology. The positionality of authors varies in gender, identity and sexual orientations, whether out of the closet or not. We are also aware that in many countries including Japan, gender archaeology has never become as popular as in Anglophone countries. In such a diverse situation, we hope to have an opportunity to share theoretical discussions and practical studies on gender and sexuality to discuss the nature of materiality of gender and sexuality. We encourage new approaches, confession of the facing issues, and the suggestion of the future possibilities of archaeologies on gender and sexuality.
Keywords: gender, sexuality, identity
Theory for the Anthropocene
Organiser(s): Daniel Niles (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature / Japan), Sander van der Leeuw (Arizona State University / USA), Jurgen Renn (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science / Germany) and Junko Habu (University of California, Berkeley / USA)
How can our knowledge of the past be developed and transformed so that it informs our understanding of the present and future?
As scientists and citizens, knowingly or naively, we are Holocentrics. The story of humankind in the Holocene—of remarkable societal development within a period of relative climactic stability and predictability—explicitly and implictly informs our comprehension of the present and our view of the future. In this fundamental view, homo sapiens has succeeded as its ability to control nature has increased. Science—the human logic of Nature—is predicated upon our ability to observe nature’s internal, autonomous and comprehensive processes. The story of human success in the Holocene is therefore inseparable from human understanding of nature.
The prospect of the Anthropocene, however, simultaneously affirms and undermines scientific knowledge of nature. In the Anthropocene, humankind confronts the possibility of non-linear and cascading environmental change. If the future of nature is unpredictable, how can we know it? By extension, how can we know ourselves?
This workshop attempts to expand the theoretical and conceptual forms that have informed scientific understanding of the Holocene, and so to re-inform our thought of the future. It explores emerging theoretical developments in and between archaeology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology and ecology in search of concepts, theories, methods, or fields of human experience that might allow human-environmental theory for the Anthropocene.
Keywords: Anthropocene, Holocene, Co-evolution
Archaeologies of Listening.
Organiser(s): Alice Kehoe (Independent scholar / USA), Peter Schmidt (University of Florida / USA) and Innocent Pikirayi (University of Pretoria / Zimbabwe)
Theory in the future will premise many “realities,” congruent with historical experiences, languages, and habitus. How can archaeologists recognize and draw upon local as well as Western realities as we work toward inference to the best explanation? Listening to our peers in other societies strengthens archaeological practices and interpretations of data. As scientists, archaeologists must be empirically honest and follow evidence-based practices, of local people as well as conventional archaeological practice. Data include observations, premises, logics, and experience of communities in our research areas and of descendant communities that may have removed from ancestral homelands. Following the inductive method of historical sciences, interpretations should be probable but are not definitive. Historical contingencies impinge not only upon societies we are researching but also upon we researchers and those with whom we interact. Therefore listening is imperative, strategically (and morally).
Keywords: Listening; “realities”; collaboration
Organiser(s): Miriam Domínguez (University of Florida / USA) and Neill Wallis (Florida Museum of Natural History / USA)
Time is a fundamental element of archaeological inquiry that is often taken for granted in our interpretations of the past. Given that archaeologists routinely deal with various techniques
employed to measure chronological time, one must consider the interpretative possibilities of these techniques beyond the tacit assumption that time is a linear phenomenon. Papers are invited that offer: Critical evaluations of our [archaeologists] specific understandings of time and the political implications of our use of temporal taxonomies; the use of time as a fragmentation of history that gives precedence to certain events/periods, and as a distancing device to construct the “other(s)”; alternative theoretical and methodological approaches to time perspectives and temporalities of past societies; archaeological interpretations oriented toward a better understanding of historical processes by identifying the punctuated and dynamic character of flux and historical time experience.
Papers should clearly address an explicit problem and, while regionally and perhaps disciplinary specific, they should also be widely relevant to archaeological practice. The matters addressed in this symposium are politically and theoretically contentious, which will hopefully yield a productive discussion about the “future” of time as a dimension in social analysis in archaeology.
Keywords: Time, Anthropology, Archaeological theory
Archaeology After Phenomenology?
Organiser(s): Julian Thomas (University of Manchester / UK) and Ruth Van Dyke (SUNY Binghamton / USA)
As Andrew Jones (2012) has perceptively pointed out, archaeology had a ‘phenomenological moment’ in the 1990s-2000s, in which a number of the key themes of post-processual archaeology were re-evaluated from within, and a series of novel issues and approaches were introduced to the discipline. These included the experiential dimensions of place, architecture and landscape; embodiment; personhood; performance; the critique of anthropocentrism and humanism; the rejection of the culture-nature dichotomy; the notion that matter is not inert, and the critique of hylomorphic views of making.
However, all too often phenomenology in archaeology defaulted to a method rather than a philosophy, and retained a subject-centered view of the past. Over the past decade, new theoretical influences have begun to filter into archaeology: new materialisms, assemblage theory, speculative realism, object-oriented philosophy, and the ‘ontological turn’. These approaches are collectively ambivalent toward phenomenology, sometimes absorbing or extending its insights, and sometimes rejecting them. In this session, we seek to identify what is living and what is dead in a phenomenological archaeology, by asking participants to reflect on how these new perspectives might now illuminate or transform the questions and concerns that were first raised in that ‘phenomenological moment’.
Keywords: Phenomenology; new materialisms; assemblage theory
New perspectives in the archaeology of violence
Organiser(s): Mark Hudson (World Heritage Centre Division and Museum of Natural and Environmental History, Shizuoka / Japan) and Rick Schulting (Oxford University / UK)
Although archaeology has long been interested in the origins of warfare, this session will aim to develop a broader examination of the archaeology of violence in all forms. Recent years have seen a growing interest in violence in both prehistory and history and this session will attempt to explore what an archaeological perspective might bring to this topic. Violence is defined to include ‘structural violence’ as well as physical violence. Topics might include religious violence, sexual violence, violence against animals, violence against objects, violence and environmental change, state violence and ethnogenesis, as well as warfare and conflict.
Keywords: Violence, warfare, conflict
Archaeologies of Emotion and Emotional Archaeologies
Organiser(s): Jane Baxter (DePaul University / USA), April Nowell (University of Victoria / Canada) and Sian Halcrow (University of Otago / New Zealand)
Generations of archaeologists have concerned themselves with the interpretation of past behavior, and more recently critical attention has been focused on dimensions of archaeological practice. Behavior and practice are considered closely related to the material world and to the more measurable and tangible aspects of archaeological inquiry. The intersection of behavior and emotion is one of the many confluences of tangible and intangible that are less developed in archaeology. In this session, we explore the different ways that emotions can be integrated into archaeological thinking. First, how can emotions be brought into archaeological analyses as an interpretive foci? Such interpretations might engage a singular, particular emotion such as love, anger, or suffering, or could explore a range of human emotions through the archaeological record. Second, how do archaeological discoveries, and/or archaeological objects resonate emotionally in the present? Evidence for such resonances may be found in media coverage, popular culture, political uses of archaeological finds, and individual behaviors such as looting and collecting. Finally, what are the emotional impacts of conducting archaeological work, and how do emotional connections and responses to our research impact our careers and disciplinary practice?
Keywords: Emotion, Practice, Theory
Beyond the African Burial Ground Symposium I: Epistemology, Ethics, and Identity
Organiser(s): Michael L. Blakey (Institute for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary / USA), Autumn R. Barrett (Institute for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary / USA) and Grace Turner (Antiquities, Monuments & Museum Corporation / Bahamas)
The New York African Burial Ground Project that studied an 18th century African cemetery in downtown Manhattan always recognized its positioning within complex currents of a critical social history of scholarship. Established in 1992, the Project synthesized mutual values of memorialization and research in a program empowered by New York’s “descendant community” seeking to disable white supremacy in anthropological constructions of African American memory. The result was an unparalleled ethnically integrated, interdisciplinary research team led by African Americans, ancestral reclamation and reburial, erection of a US National Monument and a Visitor Center, to tell the story of “enslaved Africans” in New York.
This Session considers the theoretical implications of ethical public engagement, first prominently represented by the Project. Publicly engaged research designs and language, including “descendant communities,” continue to resonate in American archaeology, and beyond. We discuss community-generated research questions similar to ours, encompassing African diasporic origins, transformations, quality of life for the enslaved, and modes of resistance. What processes are shared by archaeological projects in the African Diaspora and elsewhere that powerfully engage the directives of descendant communities? Beyond a retrospective, we focus on processes and products reflecting the current moment in the politics of the past, and theoretical implications for the future.
Keywords: ethical public engagement, descendant communities, cemetery