WACSC organised a session at WAC Jamaica Inter-Congress (20-27 May 2007)    See photos.

 

Session:

(Re) Defining Archaeology: Emerging Perspectives from International Student Research

 

[Session abstract]

This session highlights research by international student members of the World Archaeological Congress.  Young scholars from around the globe are re-defining the importance, values, and development of archaeology through education and research.  This research simultaneously supports archaeologyfs history as a science of past cultures and tests the limits of contemporary methods, theories, and ethics.  To some, emerging research may seem a gthreath to archaeology.  We believe, instead, that the presentation and debate of innovative, revolutionary, and potentially controversial research will foster growth within our discipline. Stretching across themes of Indigenous Archaeology, Archaeology Education, Archaeology and Tourism, Community Archaeology, Public Archaeology, and more, this session will systematically overview important emerging perspectives in the field of archaeology. 

 

This session was organized by the newly formed World Archaeological Congress Student Committee (WACSC).  The WACSC is dedicated to facilitating communication and debate amongst WAC members, encouraging student membership and representation in WAC, encouraging and organizing student participation in academic events, and providing financial support to students.  Through this session, the WACSC will promote student research, education, and professional participation as integral to the field of archaeology. 

 

In order to facilitate the participation of students who could not attend the Inter-Congress in Jamaica, student paper will be made available via this Web site.  If you have comments or questions about any of the papers below, please contact the WACSC at: akira-m@gd5.so-net.ne.jp

 

 

[Electronic session]

-  María Florencia Becerra:  Archaeologists in action: challenges and problems in the daily practice

-  Brad Garrett:  What is the Public Good? Submerged Landscapes and Community Archaeology

-  Daniel Rosendahl:  Settlement and occupation of the Wellesley Islands, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

-  Emre Serifoglu:  Mapping Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlements in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria: need for a regional perspective

 

 

[Abstracts of papers presented in both actual session (held on 22 May 2007) and the electronic session]

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[Presenter]

Arwa Badran

 

[Paper title]

Museum Practice in Jordan: standing still

 

[Abstract]

Hudson, in his paper The museum refuses to stand still described museums fifty years ago. He says: eMuseums were run by either municipalities or by the state, and those in charge of them were usually under no pressure to produce results, either in the form of a steadily increasing number of visitors or of a more efficient use of funds...Very few museums charged for entry and amenities like museum shops, cafes and restaurants were a great rarity. It was generally accepted that museums should be peaceful places in which visitors of all ages were free to roam aboutc What is now known as emuseum educationf hardly existed in any organized form. Teachers took groups of their pupils to the larger museums and took responsibility for their behaviour during the visit. Museums, with very few exceptions, did not have eeducation departmentsf and education officersf (1998:44).

 

Hudsonfs description of museums fifty years ago applies to a large extent to archaeological museums in Jordan today. Although since the 1950s, museums internationally, influenced by western theory and practice, have moved on to play a greater role in serving their communities, disseminating knowledge and shaping the social, cultural and political aspects of life, archaeological museums in Jordan have not. They are today acquirers and displayers of archaeological collections with the prime intention of heritage preservation rather then public education. The question remains: why?

 

This paper aims to highlight the reasons behind the lack of engagement of archaeological museums in Jordan with accepted international museum practice.

 

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[Presenter]

María Florencia Becerra (Instituto de Arqueología y Museo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. Argentina)

 

[Paper title]

Archaeologists in action: challenges and problems in the daily practice

 

[Abstract]

The archaeological practice involves much more than research itself. Nowadays there are many important issues that must be taken into account because archaeology assumes (or, at least, wants to) a greater compromise with the social reality, especially with the original communities, the ones that recognize their past in the recovered evidence and the ones which still don't. External processes to the archaeological practice but closely connected with it, are related to this change: the conformation and/or consolidation of ethnic identities and the emergency of the so called cultural or scientific tourism (Nielsen et al. 2003). This paper evaluates which is the role of the archaeologist in all this changes: a scientist dedicated to research, inside a scientific community with its own rules, a professional educated in a public University, who assumes a compromise with the whole society, and an archaeologist who must negotiate and combine her/his activities with the interests and wishes of the original communities which he/her works with. However, in the socio - economical context of Argentina, the archaeologists are able to represent all these roles without any contradictions? There are many problems which professionals and students have to deal with. Inside the scientific community, there are not many economical resources and the competition is strong. Outside, the transmission of knowledge fails and society does not know most of the time how an archaeologist works and what is looking for (Becerra et al. 2005). The relationship with the communities whose leaders do not always represent the interests of the majority is problematic and archaeologists do not know and are not able to fullfill their expectations. Moreover, projects of cultural tourism and site museums are planned generally without knowing the community which are going to benefit and because of that they are unsuccessful.

 

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[Presenter]

Brad Garrett (The International Centre for Archaeology Underwater, Australia)

 

[Paper title]

What is the Public Good? Submerged Landscapes and Community Archaeology

 

[Abstract]

This article is a discussion of the Big Dam Era (1930s-present) in the Western United States and traditional landscapes submerged during this period. While many 'archaeological sites' were recorded as part of the inundation process, local communities in the Western U.S. continue to express regret about loss of access to memorial landscapes. Many of these now submerged landscapes hold deep value to living people and continue to be utilized.

 

Despite claims of a more informed archaeological praxis today in the United States, culturally significant areas continue to be submerged for the collective 'good'. Local community groups continue to have their culture, traditions and material remains threatened by intentional landscape inundation.

 

The Winnemem Wintu, a tribe in Northern California whose traditional cultural property is under continual threat of submergence by Shasta Dam, speaks with the author about these threats and how their culture must adapt to meet them.

 

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[Presenter]

Ali Ghobadi (Department of Anthropology, American University, USA)

 

[Paper title]

Student Faces of WAC: Who we are, where we are from, and what we are doing here

 

[Abstract]

The World Archaeological Congress has been active as an organization for more than two decades, but student activity within WAC has been largely informal until recently. During this time, student membership in WAC has increased slowly, but steadily. I examine the processes that resulted in the creation of a WAC Student Committee and demographically describe the current student members of WAC. What are the similarities and differences of current WAC student research with that of the wider WAC membership, and does this student research in fact seem to reflect emerging perspectives in archaeological research? As a global organization, WAC is constantly challenged to find ways to ensure communications among its members. Current student collaboration and communication benefits disproportionately from the enormous advances in global communications technologies that having been taking place since the creation of WAC, since many students otherwise have relatively limited resources for non-local participation and collaboration projects. Like most archaeological methods, however, access to these technologies is resource dependant and unevenly distributed around the world. As a result, the dissemination of ideas emerging from global student research continues to be a challenge in academic and professional settings that are hierarchically integrated and resource-poor.

 

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[Presenter]

Akira Matsuda (Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK)

 

[Paper title]

Chicken or egg: dialogue with the public or colleagues-archaeologists?

 

[Abstract]

Over the last decade, the so-called ecritical theoryf in public archaeology has successfully challenged the authority of the archaeologist in determining what the public should learn about the human material past. Consequently, the public archaeologistfs focus seems to be shifting from a traditional epublic outreachf approach, to a more critical emultiple perspectivef approach. Thus, just informing the public of the expertfs interpretation of archaeological materials, even in a highly accessible manner, has no longer been considered sufficient, and the edialogue with the publicf has become one of the key concepts in public archaeology. Yet, one may wonder, to what extent has this new theory been accepted within the practice of archaeology proper?

 

This paper explores this question through a case study based on my own project of public archaeology: I work on this project as a member of the Japanese excavation team digging a Roman villa in Somma Vesuviana (Italy). The case study places a particular emphasis on my position – a research student in public archaeology based in London (UK) – within the excavation team, as well as the tradition of classical archaeology in Italy, which has not been strongly influenced by the Anglo-American post-processual thinking. Through an exploratory eethnography of archaeological practicef at our excavation, I wish to argue, rather controversially, that there should be more frequent and detailed dialogues between public archaeologists and their colleagues–archaeologists, in order that the edialogue with the publicf is held in a more meaningful manner.

 

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[Presenter]

Dru McGill (Indiana University, Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest, USA)

 

[Paper title]

The Publicfs Archaeology: Utilizing Ethnographic Methods to Link Public Education with Accountability in Archaeological Practice

 

[Abstract]

Archaeological resources including archaeological sites and artifacts, historic homes, libraries and museums, are salient aspects of personal and group identity in some parts of the United States and abroad. In this paper, I discuss exploratory PhD research which utilized ethnographic methods in an attempt to understand the systems of heritage created and enacted in a small Indiana town. Though dedicated to public education and outreach, many archaeologists do not attempt to understand these political, educational, economic and inherently cultural systems of heritage and stewardship.

 

My preliminary research resulted in several conclusions that could benefit both archaeology and local communities where research takes place. I rejected an initial hypothesis that archaeological resources are ecultural resources,f which gnurture collective identity, serving as touchstones to a shared history and a continually emerging sense of shared destinyh (Hufford 2003). In this paper I do support the hypothesis that public interpretations of archaeology exist however, and that they are important for archaeologists to consider. 

 

Understanding these interpretations will facilitate more effective communication and collaboration between archaeologists and local communities. Utilizing alternative methodologies such as ethnography will also make public education efforts by archaeologists more applicable and contextualized. Through ethnography, I believe archaeologists have a better opportunity to link the professional ethics of accountability, public education, and stewardship in our research.

 

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[Presenter]

Kirsty Norman (UK)

 

[Paper title]

The role of the student researcher: notes from Hadrianfs Wall

 

[Abstract]

Fieldwork carried out for a Masters dissertation examined, through interviews, how well a consultation on the future management of the Hadrianfs Wall World Heritage Site had been carried out. Unexpected access was granted during a very tense, uncertain period at least partly because as a student, the author was not affiliated with any of the organisations concerned. This paper will examine the roles and relationships that the student may find him/herself in, in such a situation, and the possible benefits and dangers these bring. It will also look at the studentfs privilege of a sustained period to focus on a single topic, often denied to academics. In the case of an MA, this produces relatively quick results and the possibility of contributing to urgent current issues, if students can be persuaded to publish.

 

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[Presenter]

Sada Mire (Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK)

 

[Paper title]

Somali Cultural Heritage: the clash between local and Western heritage theory and practice

 

[Abstract]

The state of Somali cultural heritage can be summarized as one that has totally lacked protection and preservation measures in the past and the present. During the colonial times and after independence, all excavated artifacts were moved out of the country. Furthermore, a lack of interest for indigenous views and ways of preserving the past, both as tangible and intangible, was reflected by the displays of the ethnographic museums of Somalia. A contributing factor to this lack of discourse was the former Somali governmentfs total disregard of its peoplefs heritage. The collapse of this dictatorship government in 1991 and the civil war that followed promoted a still ongoing looting and destruction which still is totally neglected also by international community.  However, from the perspective of heritage theory, this student research study argues that the failure of the protection and preservation of Somali cultural heritage is mainly due to the clash between local and euniversalf views and methods of its preservation. Heritage protection and preservation methodologies must be linked to the cultural context. I also argue that archaeological research should be apart of the wider post-conflict reconstruction and provide possibilities for reconciliation and local community development opportunities.

 

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[Presenter]

Daniel Rosendahl (Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, niversity of Queensland, Australia)

 

[Paper title]

Settlement and Occupation of the Wellesley Islands, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

 

[Abstract]

The Wellesley Islands, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, are a culturally diverse landscape representing some 15 islands and may play a central role in understanding early Aboriginal life-ways in Australia. A study of the Wellesley Islands has the potential to contribute to our ideas about the colonization of Australia and the adaptive capabilities of modern humans to large scale environmental changes. My research will draw on anthropological, linguistic, ethnohistorical, genetic and geomorphological research and will particularly build on the limited archaeological data of the region. The Wellesley Islands have undergone four centuries of observations and research, with ethnographic records from early researchers such as W.E. Roth and Norman B. Tindale and observations from Mathew Flinders all accompanied by extensive local oral histories of the Yangkaal, Kaiadilt and Lardil. The Wellesley Islands provide a pivotal case study in furthering our knowledge of Australian prehistory.

 

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[Presenter]

Anastasia Sakellariadi (Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK)

 

[Paper title]

Community archaeology: a challenge for any young scholarfs future and, quite ambitiously, for the future of Greek archaeology

 

[Abstract]

Greek archaeology has been recently challenged for its reluctance to adjust in changing historical circumstances and to reconsider its motives and its aims. A critical appreciation mainly of the archaeology of classical antiquity and an opening to a wider audience has been deemed as necessary.

 

My research is re-defining Greek archaeology as a reciprocal and socially inclusive discipline and is defining, at the same time, community archaeology as a specific practice that encourages public participation. It investigates the relation of archaeological resources management with local communities in Greece so far and the strategies Greek archaeology can implement to become more relevant and engaging. It also engages into a multi-disciplinary discourse with anthropology, ethnography, management and museum studies, taking for the first time into consideration local communities and public perceptions. Ultimately, it raises the ethical issue of for whose sake do archaeologists work and to whom archaeology belongs.

 

In this sense, my research constitutes an emerging gthreath to the exclusive policy state archaeology has applied since its beginnings in Greece. Indeed, if only I nurture such an attitude, I will condemn my research, devaluate my work and marginalise myself. But how can a young scholar build bridges with the establishment without compromising the innovative, revolutionary and potentially controversial nature of his/her research? This paper aims at presenting the authorfs approach of the most critical aspect of her research.

 

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[Presenter]

Emre Serifoglu (University of Cambridge, UK)

 

[Paper title]

Mapping Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Settlements in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria: Need for a regional perspective

 

[Abstract]

During the last decade mainly because of hydroelectric dam projects many archaeological surveys and excavations took place in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria in order to record the archaeological evidence before they were left under water. However not many regional studies were made using the collected data. Another archaeological problem in the region is the lack of cooperation between the archaeologists working in these two countries although Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria historically form one large cultural area.

 

This PhD student research suggests that using newly developing GIS software the data collected in this area during the survey and excavation projects can be visually demonstrated by mapping ancient settlements and analysing their patterns. This would help archaeologists to develop a regional perspective, using all the available archaeological and historical evidence and eliminate modern political borders when interpreting the information. For that reason three case areas have been selected which are the Carchemish-Harran Area along the Syrian-Turkish border, Elazığ-Malatya Area in Southeastern Turkey and Göksu Valley in Southern Turkey which were all located at the border zones of ancient cultural areas where it is hoped that cultural, social and economical interactions would be more visible in terms of archaeological evidence. Second Millennium BC and the beginning of the First Millennium BC were selected as the periods to be studied.