Post-EAA report - Istanbul 2014

During the 'round table' at the 20th Annual Meeting of the EAA in Istambul
During the 20th Annual Meeting of the EAA in Istanbul, the Working Group in Pubic Archaeology held its second round table and meeting. The topic was ethics, as agreed the previous year, and a priori acceptance was great with 17 proposals of which 14 made it to the final schedule of the session.

This year we have complained a lot about the organization of the meeting, with a chaotic system that messed up proposals, and absurd requirements like having to send a paper to get time for introduction and debate of the session. This is why we could not wait more for substantial changes in organization.

Sometimes our wishes come true, but not in the way we expect. We had a productive round table with around two hours of debate, but not because we could schedule more time, but because 50% of the scheduled speakers did not show up.
Some had good reasons, but others did not even notify us. Moreover, out of the five public archaeology-related sessions of interest for the Working Group during the entire conference, two overlapped on Thursday and another two on Friday, making it impossible to attend half of the relevant sessions. If this report of the meeting is not talking about the ethical side of public archaeology, then we have to conclude that the meeting has been a failure, and we need to rethink.

This is why the Working Group has made three proposals to the EAA board (written as we did not have the opportunity to speak in the Annual Business Meeting, nor to report, or ask in the final questions).

  1.     Overlapping Sessions. The Committees and Working Groups do not only debate their interests during the meeting, but also work in the interest of their members. This is why we should have a say in the scheduling of sessions to avoid overlapping. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid it, but we can at least help to minimize the damage.
  2.          Round Tables. A round table is synonym for debate. A traditional session with a different name is not a round table. This is why we propose in future we hold real round tables in a format in which we get 2-3 hours to debate. People can send their proposals to participate too, but in a format in which the schedule is not tight and we can actually do a round table, with a maximum of 5-7 speakers and the participation of the public.
  3.      Introduction and Debate. Sessions need to be introduced and debate should be compulsory. This is why 15 minutes for introduction and 30 minutes for debate should be scheduled in every session. If we do not encourage that and limit the session to polite questions after a talk, we miss our goal to foster and support open discussion, at least from our point of view.

As the Working Group needs to have a chair and a secretary to head the organization of sessions and communicate with the EAA board, next year there will be elections, and all of you are more than welcome to participate. Decisions on any matter that affects the group will be still taken as an assembly and communication will flow as it has done to date, but the role Lorna and Jaime have been playing these two years needs to be continued, and elections are essential for that.

Going back to the session on ethics and public archaeology, the session was still productive and some interesting topics arose. It was made clear that there is a need for commitment as professionals, as we do good archaeology, we need to do good public archaeology too. This is not an easy duty, but worth undertaking, and that is why planning and management are core elements in the implementation of any public archaeology project.

Timing and funding were raised as the biggest challenges for our future, and the ethical practice of public archaeology. Philanthropy is the new funding scheme and it needs to be considered how this might be prejudicial for a project and its sustainability, a recurrent word that is central for the success of any public archaeology project. This is why archaeological teams have to engage in the long term for public archaeology projects, and planning must be clear and reasonable to be able to cover properly all the goals and timetable. In order to achieve the professionalization of public archaeology, commitment cannot be the only heart of a project and only through working with people and governments can we address this issue.

The political side of our practice in terms of agenda is crucial for the set of clear roles and the stability of teams and projects. So, the public is not only a traditional community but also a complex audience within which we can find politicians, but also other archaeologists, minority populations or other special interest groups, which may sometimes lead to conflict. Awareness of all of them is essential. The consequences of our work can be important, and this is why we need to evaluate them carefully. An activist approach is crucial for the successful impact of archaeology and public archaeology, however difficult it can be to position oneself, especially in the private sector. Public archaeology goes far beyond the remit of what we understand to be archaeological practice, into the daily lives of people, and if our work is not going to make a real difference, we need to rethink our strategies.

Of course, every situation is different and we cannot apply the same strategy to all of them. We just need to be sure what we are doing is not going to cause damage either to heritage or, more importantly, to people.

This long report sums up in some way the main ideas we debated during the session, and suggests a series of reasonable steps for next year – perhaps the EAAWG on Public Archaeology session for Glasgow 2015 could be the political role of public archaeology?


CfP - 20th EAA (Istanbul, Turkey 2014) & VII TAAS (San Felipe, Chile 2014)

Dear colleagues, we are glad to announce the Call for Papers of our next two sponsored sessions:

1. 20th EAA Meeting. Istanbul (Turkey), 10-14 September 2014.

On the ethical side of public archaeology (round table)

Nowadays, public archaeology, or more strictly community archaeology, has become a trend among archaeology professionals. The concept that working with communities is important brings with it another assumption: doing so is simple. However, community archaeology brings with it a series of ethical and practical difficulties. These issues are just the tip of the iceberg of wider challenges for public archaeology: Understanding the communities we deal with, how we undertake co-created projects with non-professionals, why we, as professionals would want to, and need to do this, and the consequences of this work, are questions that urgently need further scrutiny. We must also consider the kinds of projects we should be involved in, the consequences of these projects, the scope of our impact and how can we support communities, whilst maintaining our professionalism. Following the debate in Pilsen 2012, this session seeks to delve into the multiple ethical implications of the practice of public archaeology and the possible solutions we can find to the issues raised above in these two blocks: -Ethics in the community: How do we work with(in) local communities. -The ethics of a political practice: What are the consequences of our work within today’s Europe.

Organized by Lorna Richardson and Jaime Almansa-Sánchez

2. VII TAAS. San Felipe (Chile), 6-10 October 2014

Más allá de las comunidades.
Perspectivas en la arqueología pública de América del Sur.

Es  común  otorgar  etiquetas  a  toda  corriente  o  práctica  que  desarrollamos  como profesionales. Así, a la arqueología se le ponen innumerables complementos que nos suelen indicar de un modo más concreto a qué arqueología nos referimos. En ocasiones, estas etiquetas limitan las definiciones y generan conflictos a la hora de implantar nuevas tendencias.
La Arqueología Pública no es ajena a este proceso y, desde que fuera definida en Estados Unidos en los años 1970 (McGimsey 1972) y replanteada en el Reino Unido durante los últimos años, se ha encontrado con multitud de escollos dentro de la profesión. ¿Es difusión? ¿Es Arqueología Social? ¿Es gestión? ¿Es Patrimonio? Como disciplina joven que es, acercarse a ella genera muchas preguntas, pero, si bien la definición que hiciera Tim Schadla-­‐Hall (1999) es la comúnmente aceptada en el contexto Europeo, el contexto americano sigue manteniendo una definición más reducida, ligada a la educación patrimonial y al trabajo con comunidades locales.
América del Sur cuenta con una base teórica y metodológica extraordinaria para el desarrollo de la Arqueología Pública. A partir de la Teoría Decolonial y de la Arqueología Social Latinoamericana, los fundamentos de la Arqueología Pública pueden desarrollarse en toda su extensión. A ello se suma el contexto actual, donde los pueblos Indígenas exigen su reconocimiento como custodios del patrimonio prehispánico, lo que agrega complejidad y ofrece la posibilidad de enriquecer nuestras prácticas.
Por  ello,  y  tratando  de  superar  etiquetas,  esta  sesión  busca  acercarse  desde  una perspectiva amplia a un contexto social en estrecha relación con la Arqueología y a las posibilidades de la Arqueología para relacionarse de forma positiva con ese contexto social.
Bajo un paraguas que abarca la gestión (legislación, administración, modelo de práctica, etc.), la práctica (ética, participación, comunidades, protocolos, etc.) y  el impacto (político, económico y social), buscamos contribuciones de carácter principalmente teórico que ayuden a entender una práctica amplia de la Arqueología Pública en la perspectiva sudamericana.

Organized by Fernanda Kalazich and Jaime Almansa-Sánchez


Please, do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in participating. Deadlines are tight. As for the EAA, 27th January (link for submissions). And for TAAS, there is not a fixed date yet... but soon.


EAA 2013 - First event

UPDATE: The meeting will take place on September 4th at 15:00 in room EU 106

New working group for Public Archaeology at the EAA

Over the past few years, the number of Public Archaeology-related sessions has increased at our annual meetings, probably as a symptom of the growing interest in this topic among European archaeologists. We felt it was time to consolidate this interest on a more formal basis, and this is why we propose to create a new working group for Public Archaeology under the auspices of the European Association of Archaeologists.
Even after years of practice, and dozens of publications, the theoretical paradigm of Public Archaeology, as well as its practical standards and the definition itself, are not clear. The umbrella we call ‘Public Archaeology’, under which many different activities take place, is yet to be defined, although European archaeology has a lot to say on the topic. This is why, in the wake of previous attempts to get together and debate these essential issues, the creation of a working group and committee seems essential to the forward direction of these debates amongst European archaeologists.
During the 19th EAA Annual Meeting in Pilsen, we will meet for
the first time. This first meeting will take place on 3 September, and anyone interested in actively participating or simply interested in joining the group is very welcome to attend. The conclusions will be announced during the EAA session
Public archaeology from the ground up’, which we hope it is also of interest to you.
In the agenda for this first meeting, a definition of Public Archaeology, a theoretical framework, and a discussion of practical standards will begin to be developed, in cooperation with other similar groups and bodies throughout Europe over the next few years.
If you are interested in participating in this meeting, please write us to at: thepublicarchaeologygroup@gmail.com and we will keep you informed with news prior to the meeting and can answer any questions you may have.

Jaime Almansa-Sánchez
Lorna Richardson


JIA 2013 - PAG Session

On May 10th we will hold the first session framed in the PAG initiative. It will take place at the VI JIA, a congress for young researchers in Barcelona (Spain). Organized by Gemma Cardona and Jaime Almansa, it will address the role of public archaeology in times of crises. A series of young researchers from 8 nationalities will show different approaches to the topic, divided in two lines:
-The use of archaeological heritage as a resource for development. Dealing with the valorization of archaeological sites, or their use for economic development.
-The impact of archaeology in contemporary society. Addressing the different ways archaeology engages society and vice versa. 
Check the contents in the web.
The session will hopefully be streamed at JAS Archaeology Ustream channel from 8:00 to 13:30 GTM and you will be able to follow it on twitter with the hastag #pubarch and we hope to include your comments and thoughts during the debate.
Also, can follow the congress at #JIA2013


Join our new JISCM@il list!

We are happy to announce that our new mail list hosted at JISCM@il is already available. You can join it HERE and share public archaeology with partners worldwide. As one of the main aims of thePAG, communication needs to be open, clear and fast, so this is why we chose this platform to lead the debates and talks on the group in complement with our social networks.
Waiting for you towards a better #pubarch