Pacific Island Archaeology in the 21st Century: Relevance and Engagement Koror, Palau, 1-3 July, 2009

The conference – Pacific Island Archaeology in the 21st Century:
Relevance and Engagement – examines how natural and cultural heritage studies and archaeology are relevant to the sociopolitical, economic, and environmental challenges facing contemporary and future societies in Pacific islands. How can knowledge of the past inform current perceptions, decisions, and actions of local communities in relation to their heritage? How do these connections encourage the engagement of researchers with the local community and of the indigenous community with heritage investigations?

Academics, governmental agencies, indigenous groups, and cultural resource professionals are encouraged to present critical discussions regarding the potential significance and contribution of heritage to the resolution of contemporary issues and practical methods for encouraging and developing opportunities for community-based cultural heritage preservation and management.

European Association of Archaeologists
12th Annual Meeting
Cracow, Poland
19th-24th September, 2006

Archaeology in Europe: Global or Parochial?
Arek Marciniak and Claire Smith

Calgary, Canada
11th-14th November, 2006

Global Adventures in Decolonisation: decolonizing archaeology now that everybody thinks of the world as being post-colonial
Claire Smith, Ken Isaacson and George Nicholas

Panel Discussion
Decoding Implications of the Genographic Project for Archaeology
George Nicholas and Julie Hollowell


Archaeology in Europe: Global or Parochial?
Arek Marciniak and Claire Smith

This session will focus on the tension between archaeology in Europe as a national, or even parochial, concern; archaeology in Europe as a European concern; and the impact of globalisation. Archaeology in Europe is composed of a number of distinct national schools, each of which is characterised by different trajectories. However, archaeological practice and archaeological heritage management and protection need to go beyond the national level at which it has been practised far too long. The developments over the last years, both in old and new EU member states and countries beyond EU are marked by internationalising and standardising, especially apparent in archaeological heritage management. It is manifested by adoption of international standards and regulations such as e.g. the Malta Convention as well as emergence of European institutions dealing with these issues such as Europae Archaeologiae Consilium. This session will scrutinise some of the differences and similarities that exist in European archaeology today along two axes:

  • National archaeologies vs. European integration.
  • European archaeology vs. world issues.

Within this framework, this session will discuss the most pertinent issues in European archaeology today. It will focus on legislative framework governing archaeological work in subsequent countries and its relations to the European legal regulations, decision making process, maintenance of preserved archaeological heritage, and implementation of international regulations at the national level or public presentation of archaeological resources. It also aims to identify major ethical concerns in Europe, including the notion of a living heritage, in comparison to approaches to these issues in other parts of the world. Further issues that will be debated include major funding policy, large scale investments, contract archaeology, commercialisation of archaeology as well as systems of documentation, site recording, analysis, and standards of good practice within Europe and elsewhere.

Global Adventures in Decolonisation: decolonizing archaeology now that everybody thinks of the world as being post-colonial
Convened by Claire Smith, Ken Isaacson and George Nicholas

In recent years, Indigenous critiques of archaeological practice-like the earlier critiques of Marxists and feminists-have set new accents and directions for an archaeological practice that are politically aware of, sensitive to, and harmonious with, the goals of Indigenous peoples. There is a slow but sure movement in archaeology that moves from posturings that pitch ‘science’ against Indigenous rights to an Indigenous archaeology moves beyond research ‘about’ Indigenous peoples to focus on research that is conducted with, and for, Indigenous peoples. This moves Indigenous concerns and values from the ‘outside’ to the ‘centre’, orienting archaeology towards Indigenous systems of knowledge and power, and involves fundamental challenges to archaeological theory and practice, as well as substantive changes in the power relations between archaeologists and Indigenous peoples.

But do we really live in a ‘postcolonial’ world? Indeed, how appropriate is the term “postcolonial” to the archaeology we conduct today? While ‘post’ means ‘after’ most texts described as postcolonial are simply critiques of colonialism, but do not actually portray an archaeology with a form that is greatly different from that of colonialism. If colonialism has meant living within a framework of control, what kind of shape might a truly postcolonial archaeology take? In our view, it would be a framework in which Indigenous people hold (equal) power and autonomy-but what kind of shape might that take? Core issues include: Who benefits from archaeological research? Do archaeologists have a right to control the pasts of others? Is the Western scientific approach to archaeological theory and method necessarily the ‘best’ way of interpreting the past? What are the practical ramifications of archaeological research for the Indigenous peoples with whom they work, for whom the ‘artefacts’ of archaeology are a living heritage? And how can archaeologists transform their theory and practice so that they benefit Indigenous peoples?

Both global alliancing and local action are essential to the promotion of archaeological practices capable of empowering to Indigenous peoples and concerns. This also requires moving far beyond the “working together: stage archaeologists and Indigenous peoples are to shape a shared future. The outcome of a true and equal collaboration between Indigenous peoples and archaeologists will be a clearer definition of shared areas of interest and power. The task ahead is to work together and fashion archaeology so that it is benefits both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of the 21st century.

Decoding Implications of the Genographic Project for Archaeology

A panel discussion organized by George Nicholas (Simon Fraser University) and Julie Hollowell (University of British Columbia and Indiana University).

As illustrated by the recent controversy created by the National Geographic-sponsored Genographic Project and its predecessors, there is a need to better understand the broader ethical and practical implications of uses of ancient human genetic information. While technological advances are facilitating the kinds of information available to researchers, concerns about appropriation and the potential misuse or commodification of genetic material and the data extracted from it have been raised by a number of stakeholders. Aspects open to consideration are access to samples, permissions for research and analysis, ownership and dissemination of data, and consequences of archaeological or historical interpretation of results. This forum is an exploration and discussion of some of the salient issues involved from a variety of perspectives, rather than a debate. Through it, we hope to generate productive dialogue and delineate further questions about intellectual property, cultural identity, and research ethics. The panel will begin with short presentations by participants, followed by an extended period of moderated discussion. This session is sponsored by the World Archaeological Congress and by the Intellectual Property Issues and Cultural Heritage Project.