University College Cork
Environmental Archaeology: Practice, Society, Politics
University College Cork, 27th April 2019
This conference intends to reflect on and debate the practice of environmental archaeology within the broader context of society and politics in the era of ‘Post-Truth’ and the environmental and social challenges related to an increasingly volatile World. What is the current status of the subject in the face of such momentous problems? Recent publications have suggested that environmental archaeology requires ‘an ethical promise’(Riede et al. 2016) whilst others have called for increased emphasis on the role of research in terms of understanding and planning for future environmental changes and challenges (Murphy and Fuller 2017). Is it relatively easy to draw ‘lessons’ from the past, but much more difficult to translate these into effective practice? Developments in public archaeology include closer reflection and critical analysis of this area of engagement and involvement (e.g. Richardson and Almansa Sanchez 2018); what is the role of the environmental archaeologist in the context of ‘public engagement’? Other developments include calls for the ‘de-colonisation’ of subjects such as anthropology (https://anthrodendum.org/2018/06/15/the-decolonial-turn-2-0-the-reckoning/), the importance of inclusivity and collaboration within ecology (Ramirez et al. 2018); whilst issues such as gender and power politics are relatively poorly debated within the practice of environmental archaeology. In order for the discipline to continue to prosper and grow, we need to ensure thriving communities of practice, but how can we ensure this at a time when many archaeology departments, in the UK in particular, are threatened by economic policies and models? Other directions might include closer contacts and collaborations with subjects outside the traditional cognate disciplines such as archaeology, but what challenges as well as opportunities might these bring? Themes could include but are not limited to:
- How might environmental archaeology influence ‘real world’ problems and debates such as those around climate change and ecosystem degradation? Case studies, theory and method.
- Environmental archaeology and the ‘public’; especially debates around public archaeology in the contemporary context. Examples, problems and potential.
- Gender, power and the practice of environmental archaeology: provocations and reflections.
- Beyond archaeology and Quaternary Science: interfaces and collaborations of EA with ‘non-traditional’ subject areas: case studies and progress.
- Commercial environmental archaeology in uncertain times: challenges and connections
- Teaching and learning environmental archaeology: problems and reasons to be cheerful.
Murphy, C. and Fuller, D. Q. 2017. The future is long term: current and future directions in environmental archaeology. General Anthropology 1, 1: 7-10.
Ramirez, K.S. et al. 2018. The future of ecology is collaborative, inclusive and deconstructs biases. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0445-7
Richardson, L.-J. and Almansa-Sanchez, J. 2018. Do you even know what public archaeology is? Trends, theory, practice. World Archaeology 47, 2: 194-211.
Riede, F., Andersen, P. and Price, N. 2016. Does environmental archaeology need an ethical promise? World Archaeology 48, 4, 1-16.
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