Institute of Archaeology


Sessions 31-55

Following the Call for Session proposals, the following sessions have now been agreed.

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31: Archaeology and heritage in populist nationalist constructions, projections, and justifications of otherness

Populist nationalism divides an inside 'us' from an outside 'them', both vertically, separating 'the people' from 'the elite', and horizontally, marking a dichotomy between a perceived ‘native’ in-group and ‘foreign’ others. People, ideas, objects, practices and places from prehistoric and historic times are mobilised as part of simple myths that are aimed at legitimising narratives of national ancestry, development, or destiny (Coakley 2004). Concurrently, archaeological knowledge can be – and has been – deployed to deconstruct projected otherness, sometimes utilising similar schemes of narrative construction.

This session invites papers that examine processes of appropriation of the past to generate, express or oppose populist nationalist ideologies. It will highlight the underlying dynamics through which archaeological knowledge enters political discourse, and will particularly reflect on the kinds of past that are drawn upon, and the myths they are moulded into. It is hoped that, by developing a better understanding of how the past, interpreted through archaeological approaches, is utilised politically, we can reflect on how archaeologists contribute or respond to situations where the past is weaponized. The session aims to encourage comparative and interdisciplinary discussion, drawing on case studies that focus on different periods and a range of geographical contexts. Papers concentrating on tangible and intangible heritage, and those addressing how representations of archaeology in pop-culture may contribute to the development of specific political discourses are particularly encouraged.

Coakley, J. (2004) Mobilizing the past: nationalist images of history. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 10(4), 531-560.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Room W3.05 (Level 3)

32: If wisdom *sits* in places, does that mean it has a body? Scalar links between mobility, embodiment, and archaeological knowledge

While movement is fundamental to processes that archaeologists study, it also poses some of the greatest challenges: material records—in their many manifestations—rely on stasis as well as movement. Approaching movement entails engaging with scalar problems, as archaeologists “move” between isotopes, populations, artifacts, skeletal remains, infrastructures, texts, subjects and authors, and landscapes. We propose an exploration of the body and embodiment as entry-points into such interpretive challenges. Might the body be a locus at which wildly disparate scales intersect and can be made commensurate?

Archaeologists are increasingly theorizing movement and mobility in their analyses of people and things. While engagements with the “new materialism” invite an exploration of the ways in which materials and substances are in flux, studies of globalization and the Anthropocene attend to global flows of people and things. The embodied subject—one that moves, perceives, dreams, does—adds another interpretive challenge in archaeological knowledge-making practices. Perceptions and experiences were not only situated in past bodies, but the reconstruction of those experiences is also situated in the embodied practices of archaeologists.

We invite position papers drawing from broad geographic and temporal contexts (including archaeologies of the contemporary and of the Anthropocene, as well as archaeologies of the deeper past) that engage with the body, scale, and archaeological knowledge-making practices. How might archaeologists understand the ways in which movement sediments in objects, bodies, and landscapes? How might we (re)-locate scalar knowledge of global precarity in bodies? Will this (re)-situating help to unite snarls of universalism, and tie scalar ties?

Organiser details:

Format: Panel debate | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 822

33: Reassessing the archaeology of religion

Archaeologists generally discuss religion via two paths: the tangible material manifestations of religious practice and intangible theory based upon modern reconstructions. This session aims to unite material and theory to present a holistic view of religion. The focus will be on the theoretical and methodological problems at the foundation of archaeologies of religion, including definitions of religion in archaeology, the application of concepts and methods from the study of religion to archaeology, and the archaeological contribution to knowledge about religion(s). Historically, religious practices were integrated into all other practices within almost all culture groups, and our theoretical discussions need to begin to address the entanglements within the material culture we uncover and the cultures we reconstruct. Furthermore, the session will ask how archaeological knowledge of religion(s) is produced and involved in broader discourses in academia and beyond. This session aims to bring together a wide range of research, both geographically and temporally, to provide a rounded conversation that ultimately addresses how archaeologists can reconstruct religion.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Clarke Hall (Level 3)
34: Playing with the past, practising for the future : A workshop for experimental community archaeology

Community archaeology isn’t, and never should be, a box ticking exercise, a bolt-on to existing projects. It’s about keeping archaeology in the public psyche, inspiring the next generation of curious minds, keeping heritage and history relevant whilst acknowledging its inherently political nature. It’s about giving all of our fieldwork and research a relatable element, a touchstone to current community life that anchors it to ideas of belonging, identity, self, and cultural heritage. Community archaeology is as much about the future as it is the past – it ensures a future for heritage and for archaeological services. As budgets get tighter and funding gets scarcer, we need the public. The public, in turn need us – archaeology and heritage can provide opportunities for communities to form thriving hubs of culture, arts, and collaboration in the face of cuts to services and facilities. Beyond that, research is emerging into health and wellbeing outcomes of being involved in archaeology - tangible, quantifiable benefits that need strong further research and evaluation.

We can provide a space for wellbeing to flourish, curiosity to be sparked, the incredible research and hard work of all archaeologists to be enjoyed and engaged with by a diverse audience.

This session invites anyone working, volunteering, or researching community archaeology, public heritage, museums outreach and related fields. The format is of a workshop. We invite speakers to bring short activities - creative, playful, experimental - that the workshop participants can undertake and evaluate. We encourage submissions from individuals at any stage in their career.

Organiser details:

Format: workshop | Tues 17 Dec 09:30 | Room 728
35: Sensory archaeology across space and time

The study of the past is currently experiencing a spatial and sensory turn, affecting the work of prehistorians, classical, medieval, and historical archaeologists alike. Across disciplines sensory archaeology allows us to engage with, and challenge, our knowledge of the past through experience and experimentation. Despite the benefits and a growing number of approaches developed by specialists in different fields, attempts to develop a diachronic conversation on the matter have been limited. The aim of this session is to bring together scholars from a variety of backgrounds to create a lively and challenging setting to discuss new theoretical and methodological approaches to sensory archaeology. By exploring an interdisciplinary and cross-period consensus, this session aims to advance the ongoing debate about the potential of this relatively new discipline to engage with specific themes across space and time.

The session invites proposals on three themes from any period; Experiences of ‘Body', ‘Place' and ‘Materials'. Papers encompassing multiple themes and engaging with the conference’s broader theme (Power, Knowledge and the Past) are particularly welcome. The session will adopt a mixed format. Each theme will contain 2-3 presentations, followed by a ‘hands-on’ session with multiple participants demonstrating a sensory approach. When submitting a proposal please indicate whether you would like to present a paper or a short workshop with an accompanying poster. Speakers who present a paper may also contribute to the workshop. We encourage experimental approaches and the use of props/materials to embrace sensory engagement; these must be suitable for an indoor environment.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session/workshop | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 731/6

36: Neptune’s DISCO inferno – encouraging citizen science in the intertidal zone
This session has now been withdrawn.
37: Curriculum Wars: Edutainment, Employability, Critical Thinking? New Archaeological Pedagogies of Power, Knowledge and Accessibility

At a time when the heritage and education sectors are both firmly in the grip of financial cutbacks, a battle ensues. It is the battle between delivering interesting and engaging content, versus providing foundations for employability, whilst also offering suitable pastoral support. Meanwhile there is an alternative view of education that it is an improving activity without the need for instrumentalization (although critical thinking may make the individual more adaptable and resilient in the face of changing skills needs). This is a challenge with a complex and interdisciplinary subject such as archaeology. Is there a need to construct an archaeological pedagogy? Or do we need to be developing multiple pedagogies to deal with and accommodate the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology?

Such interdisciplinary pedagogies need to deal with the question as to how are we expected to manage these challenges of providing an accessible rounded education to an increasingly diverse audience? Does the drive for accessibility compete with the desire to create suitable confident graduates to take up the mantle in the seemingly growing demand for industry professionals? Empowering students with knowledge and confidence could be promoted with pedagogies that can cope with the uncertainties of the current education sector. This session encourages contributors to share insights into how we continue to entice students into the sector by emphasising the wide-reaching opportunities this sector offers before they consider or reach university, and how we keep them on track into higher education given the ever-rising costs of undergraduate and postgraduate study. In these times of austerity, current trends are towards more monetarily rewarding futures. We need to identify how we meet these challenges to ensure a resilient and robust heritage sector in the future.

As part of this, theories of knowledge and power are important for archaeological purposes, and also analyses of how power and knowledge operate, are performed, and maintained in the classroom space. Diversity issues include autism, depression, gender, age and ethnicity. Support for disabilities is under financial threat, and demographic diversity may become less of a priority with increasing institutional pressures.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard Session | Wed 18 Dec 09:30 | Room 777/80
38: The social production of money: archaeological perspectives

Money is a commonplace of complex societies, and evidence for its production and use appears in the archaeological record at multiple scales: from individual coins, dies, and weights, to mint buildings, metallurgical workshops, and mining complexes. The character, scope, and volume of this evidence means that archaeology can offer significant and unique contributions to wider anthropological and sociological debates concerning the socio-cultural processes by which money comes into being: how are objects transformed into money, how are different forms of money rendered legitimate or illegitimate, and how are the social conventions behind money maintained or challenged by its producers and (non)users? This session therefore invites contributions exploring the social production of money and moneys in past societies, with a focus on five key themes:

  • The assignation of value to monetary media
  • Legitimation and validation of moneys
  • Fungibility and commensuration of moneys
  • Money and institutions
  • Hierarchies of money

We welcome contributions addressing the full range of money forms, including, but not limited to, coins, credit, and commodity moneys.

Keywords: convention, legitimation, money, value

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 728
39: Archaeology and the camera truelle: theorising archaeology through the moving image

By 2022, it is predicted that video will account for 82% of global internet provider traffic (CISCO 2019). In other words, the moving image is set to become humanity’s dominant form of internet communication. Is archaeology ready for this? Archaeologists have embraced filmmaking as a form of recording, reporting, and promoting their work since at least the 1910s, and today, social media abounds in archaeologist-made videos that promote or report archaeological work and values. But can we use filmmaking practices (including videography and animation) to dig deeper than functioning merely as an illustration, record, or PR? Artists, documentary filmmakers, anthropologists, and journalists have long used the medium of filmmaking to ask and answer complex questions about the world in ways the still image and the written word cannot. Borrowing Piccini’s concept of the camera truelle (‘camera trowel’, based on Astruc’s concept of the camera-stylo, or ‘camera-pen’, Astruc 1948, in Piccini 2015: 2), we suggest that for archaeology to make the most of video communications in the 21st century, archaeologists must learn to ‘write’ with the moving image.

This session invites archaeologists and aligned heritage and media practitioners to discuss, screen, and share film, video, or animation works (completed or in production) that actively use the medium of the moving image to generate and construct archaeological knowledge and theories. Speakers are also invited to develop their presentations into articles as part of a planned edited volume on the subject.

Organiser details:


Film, video, animation, recording, drones, underwater filming, ethnographic film, CGI, 3D modelling, film archives, online platforms, databases, social media, live streaming, archaeological research design, film theory, media theory.


Cisco Systems Inc. (2019) Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and trends, 2017-2022. White paper. Available at: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visu... (Accessed: 25 April 2018).

Piccini, A. (2015) ‘Forum: Media archaeologies: An invitation’, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 2 (1), pp. 1-8.


Format: Standard paper session (20-minute papers plus 5 minutes screening time and 5 minutes discussion time per speaker) | Wed 18 Dec 09:30 | Clarke Hall (Level 3)
40: Excavating archaeology: the power of process

When working on an excavation, we move down the stratigraphic profile of a site, stripping away layers as we define new contexts. In moving down through the soil, we build up an understanding of the site, adjusting our approach accordingly (Hodder 1999). But the work of archaeology does not end when objects are lifted from the ground. Processes such as conservation, restorations, and subsequent de-restorations add physical layers to the surface of objects as we attempt to organise and interpret them. We also build up by adding metaphorical layers of meaning. Finds become enmeshed with other objects through the generation of archival records, practices of storage and display, and through the making of reproductions.

With the recent archival turn in archaeology (Baird 2011; Baird and McFadyen 2014) the excavation of these accumulated layers of meaning has become part of archaeologist’s work. This opens up the idea of the field site, demonstrating an urgent need to examine these processes of meaning making across a variety of settings. We invite commentators to discuss the fundamental methodological questions of where and how we construct archaeological knowledge and the power that these processes hold over our understanding and interpretation. Papers could consider, but are not limited to:

  • The production of knowledge in the archaeological record and excavations in the archive
  • The use of reproduction-making in learning about the past
  • Restoration and de-restoration as shaping perceptions of ancient objects and societies
  • Conservation as interpretation
  • Ethnography as a tool for excavating archaeological knowledge.


Baird, J.A. 2011. Photographing the Dura Europa’s 1928-1937: An Archaeology of the Archive. American Journal of Archaeology 115(3), 427-446.

Baird, J.A. and McFadyen, L. 2014. Towards an Archaeology of Archaeological Archives. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 29(2), 14-31.

Hodder, I. 1999. The Archaeological Process: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishers: Oxford.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Wed 18 Dec 09:30 | Room 728
41: Palaeolithic societies, sociality and social life: archaeological perspectives 20 years after Gamble (1999)

Twenty years ago, Gamble’s “Palaeolithic Societies of Europe” was published, representing a landmark moment in the study of the social lives of both archaic hominins and early members of our own species, Homo sapiens. For arguably the first time, Palaeolithic populations, and the archaeological record which they generated, were analysed within an explicitly social framework interpreted in terms of the nested scales of social networks and the resultant interactions within and between individuals, groups, and regional populations. Two decades later, social approaches have become fundamental to Palaeolithic archaeology. However, the Palaeolithic archaeological record does look rather different. Not only does it now extend back in time to 3.3 million years ago, but it also incorporates at least three new hominin species (Homo floresiensis, Homo naledi, the Denisovans and possibly a fourth, Homo luzonensis), and falls increasingly under the purview of geneticists, whose research provides unique insights into hominin interactions and evolution. What has been the impact of these developments on how we conceive of Palaeolithic society, and what should be research priorities moving forward?

Taking the 20th anniversary of Gamble (1999) as our impetus, we invite papers from researchers working on all aspects of Palaeolithic society, social life, and sociality, broadly defined. Papers are welcome from all Palaeolithic sub-periods, geographic regions, and theoretical perspectives. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: population connectivity and landscape use; group size, life history and demography; social organisation and economic strategies, including the role of individuals of different ages and sexes in Palaeolithic societies. Complementary perspectives from scholars working on primate archaeology or early farming societies are also welcome.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 739

42: Fact or fiction: the power of communities with knowledge of their pasts

We invite panellists for a debate on the power of communities with knowledge of their past.

What are the benefits of local communities being involved in public archaeology and caring for heritage – and to whom? We welcome 10-minute position papers that promote or critique how publics are empowered and/or enriched by a knowledge of, and engagement with, the past – and how these relate to local, regional and national identity. Position papers should respond to one or more of the following prompts – or raise their own (related to the theme!):

  1. Does knowledge of the past give communities power, add to notions of identity and cultural heritage – or if not, what is community archaeology for?
  2. How do we measure the impact of an intangible feeling of place, identity or general wellbeing that results from a ‘successful’ community project – should we even try?

Should these questions be our concern as archaeologists, if the ‘prime directive’ is the excavation and understanding of a site, with preservation by record or in-situ? Are such outcomes for other disciplines to study once the trenches are backfilled and the info-boards are in place? 

Where would this stance leave the HLF model of funding community projects?  Has this financial model driven the situation too far in favour of assumed outcomes and impact?

Organiser details:

Format: Panel debate | Wed 18 Dec 14:00 | Room 739
43: Women and Power? Past wom*n, present feminism

Abstract: 2017 saw the publication of Mary Beard’s bestseller Women and Power, and the explosion of the #MeToo movement across social media. Billed as a manifesto, Beard’s book apparently falls short of generating explicitly inclusive and intersectional practical steps for supporting wom*n’s power in modern, multi-vocal archaeology.

Yet much is happening: gender studies and feminist theorisations of the past have experienced growing popularity. Important conversations (Trowelblazers collective, ‘Mentoring Women in Archaeology’ Facebook group, Women’s Classical Committee, BAJR Respect guide etc.) about the role of wom*n in archaeology are underway.

Nonetheless, issues of gender seem still confined to a subgenre in archaeological research and theoretical development. Wom*n’s (negative) experiences in and outside of the academy and struggles to rise to positions of power have also been highlighted. These issues are perhaps felt most keenly at intersections of class, race, sexuality, dis/ability, and in the experience of people identifying as non-binary or trans.

Therefore, in this session, we invite consideration of the following questions:

  • How can we re-theorise intersections between wom*n/gender and power in the past?
  • What empowers wom*n in the present? Which current practices, theories and stories should we celebrate and build on? What are the barriers to inclusion now?
  • What methods, approaches and guidelines could amplify a diverse range of voices to confront implicit and internalised biases? How can we collectively develop an explicitly inclusive approach to future archaeological theory and practice?

We welcome 10-minute papers that approach broad theoretical discussion and/or practical case studies, with (or focused on) inclusive language and subjects. The session will work toward the development of a practical manifesto to redouble efforts to establish and support the power of wom*n in archaeology. We hope that speakers, workshop leaders and participants will continue to work with us after the session to bring this to a tangible end product.

Organiser details:

Format: Panel debate session, with short position papers, followed by an open workshop and discussion | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 802/4

44: Power play: archaeology and games

The field of archaeogaming, the study of the intersection between archaeology and video games, has been gaining increased academic recognition. Some of the main research strands have included examinations of the ethics of looting in video games and establishing video games as archaeological sites. This session aims to build on this existing research, whilst also inviting new perspectives, specifically examining how power dynamics are produced or reproduced in games from an archaeological point of view.

Whilst archaeogaming studies have tended to focus on digital games, this session is open to submissions focusing on any kind of game, from prehistoric gaming pieces to 19th century boardgames to upcoming video game releases. We are open to considering a wide range of interpretations of this core theme. Some suggested topics, which are by no means exhaustive, include:

  • Colonialism and historical/archaeological games
  • Power dynamics in games affected by race/gender/sexuality/age/disability
  • Accessibility and games
  • Working conditions in games development and archaeology

We particularly encourage submissions from individuals outside of the academy, from other disciplines, individuals who have not presented at a conference before and those at undergraduate level. If you would like to submit but are concerned about conference fees, please do get in touch as we are passionate about making this session as accessible as possible.  There will also be a digital stream of the session on Twitter for those who cannot present in person.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Room 822

45: The decolonisation of archaeology and archaeological collections within museums

The work we undertake as archaeologists and curators of archaeological collections has the potential to be of great social value. Archaeology can have a positive effect on individual and collective wellbeing, contributing to the construction of identity, social connectivity, a sense of belonging and collective empowerment. However, these wellbeing effects vary between demographic groups. Up until the mid-20th century, Archaeology played an important role in the justification of colonial conquest by state and religious actors, the enactment of violent control, and the appropriation of the past of other countries. Through discourse of civilization and origins, Archaeology was used in the construction of European identity and of superiority. Colonial ideas continue to persist within academia (content and pedagogy), within the wider profession, and in museum practices. They are used to justify archaeological projects abroad, and they influence research frameworks and project designs in the UK. Cobb’s Digging Diversity research (2012; 2015) highlights the lack diversity within academia and the profession. As such, diverse perspectives and interpretations of archaeological evidence are excluded, and there is a distinct lack of representation within the stories we tell publicly.

Run by members of Museum Detox, the BAME[1] network for Heritage professionals, this session will be a selection of short papers with a panel and debate exploring the importance of decolonising archaeological practice and archaeological collections in museums and archives. Through active discussion this session will help us to collectively reflect on how the histories of colonialism and empire are reflected in archaeological practice and museum collections. It will promote new approaches and explore what decolonisation looks like in practice.


  • Cobb, H. L. 2012. ‘Digging diversity? A preliminary examination of disciplinary diversity in UK archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.
  • Cobb, H. L. 2015. ‘A diverse profession? Challenging inequalities and diversifying     involvement in British archaeology’, in P. Everill and P. Irving (eds.) Rescue    Archaeology: Foundations for the Future, 226-245. Hereford: RESCUE.

Organiser details:

Format: Mixed session | Tues 17 Dec 09:30 | Room 826

[1] BAME is a term used in the UK to refer to people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic descent. Variations include BME (Black and minority Ethnic) and POC (People of Colour). 

46: Archaeology and heritage studies in, of, and after the Anthropocene
What does it mean to live in a self-proclaimed “age of humans”? And what is the role of archaeology and heritage studies in the current planetary “crisis” which this age is widely recognised as having heralded? Over the past decade, the “Anthropocene” has stimulated significant comment across archaeology and heritage studies, appearing in a number of different guises--as temporal marker, extinction crisis, human niche, climatological catastrophe, socio-cultural formation, economic and political critique, and posthumanist rallying cry to name but a few. But these debates and discussions have tended to happen in isolation from one another, limiting their usefulness and impeding broader discussion of the significance of the concept for archaeology and heritage studies more generally. The aim of this session is to facilitate interdisciplinary conversations across a broad range of scientific, artistic and humanistic approaches to the Anthropocene (and associated past, present and future environmental and climate related issues) to begin to explore the ways in which archaeology and heritage studies might reorganise themselves to address the new research agendas which such interdisciplinary approaches, and the broader recognition of these associated contemporary planetary crises, urgently demand.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Tues 17 Dec 09:30 | Room 777/80

47: Persistent pasts: engaging with conflict legacies in the present

Conflict both destroys and creates on a local and global scale, reconfiguring existing landscapes, power structures, beliefs and practices, and in the process forges - and often enforces - new and distinctive human-thing relationships.

This session invites papers focussing on the reuse of material cultures and/or landscapes of (armed) conflict from prehistory to the present day. The session welcomes, but is not limited to, contributions covering themes such as transformation and (re)appropriation of landscapes and objects, material persistence, material/human resistance, destruction/creation of lifeworlds, human/non-human entanglements, and practices of recycling within conflict or post-conflict settings. Papers proposing new theoretical and conceptual approaches to living with and transforming conflict legacies are particularily encouraged, as are contributions which draw on materials and case studies from a range of different contexts, including indigenous and non-Western perspectives.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Tues 17 Dec 14:00 | Room 777/80

48: Boundaries are for burning! Intersecting ideologies of resistance in archaeology
This session has now been withdrawn.
49: Publishing power

Publishers and editors together form one of the most powerful gate-keeping groups in archaeology and academia more broadly. In this session, we invite authors, editors and publishers to discuss the power imbalances in publishing practices, both in the current landscape of neo-liberal universities and throughout the professionalization of archaeology during the twentieth century, and to explore what measures can be employed to bring about more publishing parity. Potential topics for discussion include:

  • How can we ensure that under-represented groups have equal access to publishing?
  • What data exist to explore issues of diversity amongst e.g. authors, editorial boards, reviewers, commissioning editors etc?
  • What are the relationships between moves to ‘decolonise’ curricula and publishing?
  • Are there models and approaches in different disciplines from which archaeology might learn?
Open Access (including, but not exclusively, Plan S)
  • What might an Open Access future look like for archaeology?
  • Would an Open Access future entrench current power imbalances or bring about more equality?
  • Are there different sets of issues for e.g. journal and book publishing? To what extent might this be driven by current or future REF plans?
Data sharing
  • Who has financial access to digital repositories such as the Archaeology Data Service?
  • How do issues of career precarity link to data sharing?
  • In what ways and to what extent are senior gate-keepers in journals playing a role in improving data sharing?
  • There are significant access problems around language – are there potential tech solutions to these issues?
Canon vs textbooks vs public-facing (trade) books
  • Who gets to write the key parts of the canon?
  • Are textbooks and public-facing (trade) books of more importance for wider communication of archaeology? But under-respected within academia?
  • What are the relationships between publication venue, publication format, accessibility and curriculum development? What are the power networks controlling inclusion or exclusion from reading lists?

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Wed 18 Dec 09:30 | Room 826
50: Erased from the past: bringing marginalised people into archaeology

As more marginalised people are making their way into Archaeology we are coming to terms more with how those people are not represented in our research. Until more recently, the past has been written as though these people did not exist in the past. Increasingly, we are becoming aware that they did, but have been largely erased in archaeological narratives. Examples include the lack of discussion of gender beyond the Western binary, erasing homosexual relationships and gender dysphoria, erasing gendered bodily experiences (such as menstruation and menopause) and ‘whitewashing’ experiences of people of colour. This session invites discussion into research on erased people or practices that explores why this has happened and continues to happen. We invite short position papers proposing ways forward to redress these imbalances, with a focus on the ethics of such archaeological practice.

Organiser details:

Format: Panel Discussion | Wed 18 Dec 14:00 | Room 784

51: Conceptualising resistance in archaeology: from prehistory to occupying Wall Street

The notion of resistance is receiving a great deal of attention in the social sciences, but at the same time its productiveness is at risk due to the heterogeneity of meanings that it encompasses, ranging from violent and organised opposition to small scale, every day acts of dissidence. The ‘soft version’ of the concept is due to James Scott (1990), according to whom every small dissident practice can be labelled as resistance as long as it bears that intentionality. However, this conceptualisation has been accused of accepting as resistance practices that are in fact trivial. In contrast, more radical approaches have argued that power exists within every network of relationships, and its visibility and functioning change depending on the processes of dissolution/resistance that operate within human societies. Following González-Ruibal (2014), processes of resistance can be characterised as a spectrum, which depending on intentionality, capacity and visibility, allows to distinguish between resilience, resistance and rebellion. Archaeology is in a privileged position to analyse issues of resistance and power, as it allows us to understand how the past (memories, habits, traditions) and material culture are constitutive elements of both. This session welcomes papers offering insights in any of these topics, both on a purely theoretical basis or including case studies.

Organiser details:

  • Manuel Fernández-Götz, University of Edinburgh (m.fernandez-gotz@ed.ac.uk)
  • Guillermo Díaz de Liaño, University of Edinburgh (guillermodiazliano@gmail.com)
  • Felipe Criado-Boado (Spanish National Research Council, Institute of Heritage Sciences)
  • Carlos Tejerizo-García (Spanish National Research Council, Institute of Heritage Sciences)
  • Discussant: Alfredo González-Ruibal (Spanish National Research Council, Institute of Heritage Sciences)

Format: Standard paper session | Wed 18 Dec 14:00 | Room 802/4

52: Archaeologies of marginality

The study of marginalized groups and individuals is gaining increased attention in archaeological research. Archaeologies of Marginality will address past inequalities by looking at social stratification and growing social complexity in deep history, with a focus on the multidimensional facets of social exclusion and their intersectional aspects. In this session, we discuss the development of appropriate theoretical and methodological frameworks to investigate marginality in the past to promote marginality studies in archaeology. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • dynamics of resistance and the agency of the socially excluded;
  • violence and coercive power;
  • poverty and marginality in relation to socio-economic status; warfare and war crimes, migration, forced labor and slavery
  • disease and disability
  • gender, personhood, age and the life course; marginality and social exclusion in relation to motherhood, pregnancy and childhood neglect;
  • marginality in times of collapse, crisis and environmental stress;
  • marginal landscapes, peripheral regions and ethnic marginality;
  • material culture and technology between deprivation and elite consumption;
  • anomalous burial rites, funerary deviancy and marginal burial;
  • bioarcheology, ancient DNA analysis and science-based approaches to past marginality;
  • marginality and social exclusion today; marginality in academia, epistemology; accessibility, inclusivity and diversity;
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and the safeguarding of marginalized people's endangered cultural heritage.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Room 784

53: Animals and humans: power, knowledge and agency

Human – animal relationships have often been viewed in terms of domination and exploitation, whilst more recently there has been an emphasis on commensality, intimacy and trust.  Power and knowledge flow around such relationships, directed by the agency of both human and animal participants.  In addition, knowledge of animals may shape human – human interactions, being used to empower or to marginalise animal specialists.  Within mainstream archaeology, the significance of animals is largely confined to economy and domestication, and the power, knowledge and agency that revolve within and around animal-human interactions are essentially ignored.

This session will encourage discussion and debate on the dynamics of human-animal relationships, exploring ways in which animals themselves, together with those who interact with them have shaped human history.  Animals have not ceased to be an important means for constructing human relationships; rather, human relationships have become so complex that it is frequently forgotten that animals, their agency and their exploitation may lie unrecognised at the very base of these constructs.  Knowledge and power are clearly interwoven through these relationships.  Themes to be explored may include (but are not limited to) theory and theoretical approaches to animals in human societies, animal-based cosmologies, cross-disciplinary perspectives and animal-related technologies.

Organiser Details:

Format: Standard paper session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Room 728

54: What have we done for the Romans?

This session seeks to explore how two groups of people, archaeologists and the public, conceive of the Roman past. Conserving and interpreting the archaeological remains of Roman London and Britain more widely is a series of choices. What gets uncovered, kept, conserved, and published affects what stories we tell the public, and we also make choices about the content and intent of our stories. What influences the choices of the stories we tell? Even with the best intentions we may be influenced by current political events, social trends or technological drivers. Are we driven by the need to connect local people with their heritage or do we seek to engage wider audiences? Do we respond to what we perceive as misinformation in the public domain, or misuse of the Roman past? Do we want to promote engagement in order to fund conservation and investigation or for its own sake?

But we are also interested in what and how the public knows about the Roman past. What motivates visitors to seek out sites, museums or information about the Roman past? What do they already know (or think they know)? What do they want to know? Should they get what they want or should we subvert and challenge their understanding? How do we deal with challenges to evidence? In this session we invite speakers to explore ontologies of the Roman past in London and Britain through presentation of archaeological sites, museum displays, publications, fiction and other media. We welcome speakers from the heritage, museum, and broadcasting worlds as well as from community, commercial and academic archaeology.

Organiser details:

Format: Standard paper session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Clarke Hall (Level 3)

55: Archaeology and Wellbeing – digging into your mind, body, and soul, and what it can mean for your project, class or business

Abstract – The world, workplace, and media are more interested in wellbeing than ever before. Little wonder when wellbeing is most simply defined as a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. Which is something we should all agree belongs in a much-loved, people-friendly discipline like archaeology? But wellbeing is a term that is all too often met with caution and misunderstanding, that can be seen as an unfathomable and unrealistic ambition, when faced with the realities of bottom lines, deadlines, and working with people.

This panel session will explore a range of ways wellbeing can support archaeology (its projects and its people), including ways it already does. It will also look at ways archaeology can support the delivery of wellbeing to the world at large. It will encourage the audience to think about what wellbeing means to them, and what is reasonably achievable within the realms of what they are already doing, and what they want to achieve. It will also consider what shouldn’t be attempted, because even if we’re going to provide improved wellbeing for all, it doesn’t mean everyone needs to be doing everything to achieve this, especially in the face off clear archaeological aims.

Organiser details:

Format: Panel debate session | Mon 16 Dec 13:30 | Room 739