Sessions and Abstracts

Accepted Sessions

As is tradition at TAG conferences, all individuals are welcome to approach session chairs about participating in a posted session. If you are interested in submitting a paper to any of the below sessions, please contact the session chairs directly. Otherwise, all unaffiliated papers will be sorted into general sessions or conference organizers will approach individual chairs if a particular unaffiliated paper fits their session theme.

Session 001: The Archaeology of Forgotten Places

Session Chairs: Christopher Troskosky ( ), Ezra Zubrow, and Sarah Hoffman

Historically contingent construction of place requires that new cultural constructions of place replace old ones. All archaeological sites, no matter how recent, inevitably turn out to be in some details forgotten. Old constructions then tend to fade into folklore or mythology or are eventually forgotten altogether.

This dual process of creation and destruction is intrinsically tied to human consciousness itself. H.P. Lovecraft summed this up nicely stating, “the most merciful thing in the world, I think is the human mind’s inability to correlate all its contents…” We literally cannot remember everything in detail, or we would, “either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Our fidelity of recollection is further distorted as we do not have the ability to verbally transmit memories, merely our impressions of them. Time and tide erode both places and remembrances of them creating the physical archaeological record and a historical record woven from threads of impressions of memories.

The recontextualization of a particular place with its associated particular people at a particular time is more than a recreation of human history. It must be compelling and engage the public or we are merely creating an archaeological record of archaeological excavation for archaeologists.

This session will start a conversation about archaeological sites once forgotten, which the archaeological community has rediscovered and reintroduced into the public discourse in new and unexpected ways.

Session 002: Semiotics and Ontologies: Intersections of Meaning and Perspective

Session Chairs: Martin Uildriks ( and Mark R. Agostini

Theoretical advancements continue to reveal radical biases and limitations undergirding anthropological and archaeological epistemologies. However, while social sciences such as archaeology and anthropology have begun to steer away from structuralism and have engaged in debates on materialisms and ontologies, discussions on semiotics (i.e. the making of meaning, what constitutes meaning, and intersections of semiotics with other paradigms) have remained cursory at best. The Western philosophical basis of semiotics, and its connections to other models of archaeological thought, warrants discussion on the merits and values of these frameworks and their continued contributions to post-processual and pragmatic conversations.

This session aims to explore how we construct the world around us through and as systems of signs, how these systems allow us to engage with past human thought and experiences, and how they nestle within western and non-Western materialisms and ontologies. Since the body stands central to such dialogues, we propose to investigate this theme through two paths: 1) the body as a mediating frame of cultural expression, as a vehicle through which we absorb and interact with our environments; and 2) how we use this vehicle to project and construct our environments through experience, expression, and perception. We invite 20 minute papers that explore semiotic-ontological intersections through (1) language and material culture, (2) dance and body language, (3) body-modification, (4) constructing ‘landscapes’ of signification, (5) human and non-human perspectivism, and (6) opposing non-Western and Western cosmographies and religions.

Session 003: Uneven Tempos and Unruly Spaces: A Slow Archaeology of the City

Session Chairs: Sarah Platt ( and Alanna Warner-Smith (

Cities, as archaeological sites, pose unique sets of methodological and interpretive challenges. The density of human occupation and activity, as well as the long-term accumulation of materials, results in deep, complexly stratified deposits with often enormous quantities of artifacts and data. Moreover, the peoples and activities reflected in these urban assemblages represent a cacophony of tempos and rhythms with which the archaeologist must contend. “Time” is inherent to the ways scholars have traditionally described the histories of cities, often framing the urban landscape in terms of rapid transformation, long-term occupation, boom and bust cycles, and growth and decline. Yet no singular temporal narrative adequately captures these frenetic places, where multitudes of histories, materialities, and temporalities vie for the archaeologist’s attention.

To answer such challenges, we turn to the tempo of research itself, exploring the potential of slow approaches to untangle the sheer volume of experiences that comprise urban materiality. Such an approach might consider the body of a single individual or an artifact; an urban townlot or city block; an ordinance, a business, or institution; or the larger settlement, all while attending to wider global interactions. In this session, we encourage a broad definition of the urban, from ancient to contemporary cities. At the same time, contributors should not feel limited to urban landscapes in the past, but may also probe the expression of multiple temporalities and anticipated futures in contemporary urban spaces, particularly through heritage practices and archaeologies of the contemporary.

Session 004:  Indigenous Futurities 

Session Chairs: Lindsay Montgomery ( and Heather Law-Pezzarossi

Although many scholars now emphasize indigenous persistence by deconstructing the prehistory-history divide in Native North American archaeology, the discipline has found it difficult to shake the practice of privileging the continuity of pre-colonial practices. As a result many social practices intended to ensure the futurity of indigenous peoples, such as movement, inter-marriage, the use of Western technologies, or the adoption of capitalist economies, are interpreted as a “loss,” or corruption of a previously “pure” culture (Silliman 2009). In short, our material analyses may in fact be perpetuating the very notions of decline and collapse that we have tried so hard to combat. This session takes up this dilemma, and asks, how can we continue to decolonize our approach to Indigeneity in archaeology. In order to address this question, we ask contributors to adopt an experimental approach that resists studying Native people strictly in the past and instead embraces them as fully modern actors (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2017, Tuck and Gaztambide-Fernandez 2013). This seemingly simple shift recognizes the increasingly important role of archaeologists as ethnographers and historians within the North American context while rejecting reductionist narratives of pre-colonial ascent and post-colonial decline. In taking up this approach, we seek to upset a homogeneous Western Modernity defined against the “primitive” other, making room for, and respecting Indigenous futures. Ultimately through a focus on Indigenous Futurity, contributors to this session will aim to replace ingrained linear narratives, with analyses that interpret social adaptations as part of the complex process of cultural being and becoming.

Session 005: Public Engagement, Performance, and Pedagogy with Archaeological Objects 

Session Chairs: Jennifer Porter-Lupu ( and Benjamin Zender

As archaeologists increasingly engage in public research with stakeholder and descendent communities, they have turned to creative and performance-based projects, including comic books and community theater (see Sonya Atalay’s book, Community-Based Archaeology), art workshops (ie Uzma Rizvi’s workshops in the UAE), and narrative, creative writing, and storytelling, which have been utilized in a broad array of archaeological projects. Performance scholars have long been interested in the critical deployment of everyday, aesthetic, and cultural performances toward the preservation and transmission of culture (i.e. Diana Taylor’s work with repertoires of performance in the Americas), the survival and nourishment of minoritarian communities (i.e. Dwight Conquergood’s performance ethnographies of Hmong communities in Chicago and northeastern Thailand), and the achievement of lasting political and social change (i.e. D. Soyini Madison’s human rights performances in the U.S. and Ghana). Combining insights from these two disciplinary perspectives, this session explores new possibilities for community-based archaeological pedagogies as modes of centering the perspectives and experiences of marginalized communities.

Presenters will look to creative pedagogies, aesthetic performance, and other critical engagements with the material past to trouble or complicate simplistic historical narratives, unsettle undergirding assumptions of contemporary social inequalities, and advocate for contemporary social change. We invite papers discussing public- and community-engaged projects harnessing the energies of aesthetic, everyday, and cultural performance, including art, music, storytelling, theater, and dance, broadly defined. We particularly welcome non-conventional pieces such as short workshops or aesthetic performances in addition to more-conventional academic presentations.

Session 006: At the Pace of Things? Archaeology in the Anthropocene

Session Chairs: Þóra Pétursdóttir ( and Geneviève Godin (

The Anthropocene has recently made an abrupt and forceful entry into academic and public discourses, wherein the bleak prospect of an imminent future calls for immediate action. Despite this haste, the Anthropocene may be argued to introduce a rhythmic paradox. While pronounced in terms of acceleration, it is in essence defined by a slowness of heritage—things that linger, stick around, come back to us, resurface, and refuse to meet their end.

The urgency at present, therefore, may equally involve acknowledging other, less frantic and less anthropocentric rhythms. That is to say, approaches that explore and employ a ‘thing-led’ slowness. Such approaches are already pursued in various new materialisms and ontological turns. Nevertheless, it may be argued that, despite archaeology’s direct commitment to soiled and unruly matter, there remains a tendency to keep things conveniently at arms’ length. One may ask, then, what would a sincerely object-oriented form of care involve? And what would it mean to operate at the pace of things?

Grounded in the ongoing Unruly Heritage project hosted at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway (see for more information), this session aims to investigate these questions as well as open up related avenues for thought. Embracing a depiction of archaeology as ‘slow’ and ‘patient’, we especially welcome explorations of how fieldwork traditions of repeated visits, hands-on engagements, embodied experiences and corporeal acquaintances may underpin significant methodological and onto-epistemological approaches to the challenges faced in the Anthropocene.

Session 007: Slow Violence

Session Chair: Aja Lans (

Rob Nixon defines slow violence as “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all” (Nixon 2011:2). Rather than view violence as immediate, we instead need to consider how violence might be incremental and accretive. Nixon introduced this concept as a way of better understanding how political and economic decisions that result in environmental hazards disproportionately harm the poor and underprivileged, often with ill effects that span generations. Various environmental factors, ranging from chemical waste to the effects of climate change, can result in economic hardship, poor health, and ultimately shorter lifespans. Those affected by these environmental factors are less likely to have a voice and more likely to be wiped out or displaced, and therefore are easily ignored and intentionally erased.

The concept of slow violence has been used in the fields of environmental studies, criminology, and sociology. Here, this concept is expanded to anthropology and archaeology. There are widespread discussions of structural violence, capitalism, the anthropocene, and postcolonialism within the field. Slow violence is another way anthropologists can consider how human actions affect the environment and the lives of marginalized groups. 

Session 008: Entangling ancient art: new perspectives from Americanist to Classical archaeology

Session Chairs: Chris Watts ( and Carl Knappett ( 

In this session, our aim is to explore recent approaches to ancient art across different fields of archaeology, from Americanist to Classical. In particular, we have in mind an assessment of some of the different questions that arise depending on the scale of enquiry. For example, the phenomenological move foregrounding the work that artworks do, as active agents in the practices of individual lives, has been effective in challenging the conception of the artwork as a subject of aesthetic contemplation. And yet, this shift of perspective also leads to a narrowing of view whereby only the local effects of an artwork can be recognized. When artworks share iconographic features with other objects scattered far and wide, however, there is another scale at which the artwork is operating that the phenomenological lens struggles to capture (see Stewart 2007). Iconographical scholarship may have been successful at this level, while also risking essentialist categorizations of entire art ‘cultures’. How are archaeologists and historians of ancient art to mediate between these two extremes of scale? What is the middle ground that might allow scholarship to both pay attention to the intimate interactions between individual bodies and artworks on the one hand, and to do justice to the dynamics of wider ontologies on the other? Here we suggest a two-pronged approach that draws on and develops current approaches across our discipline. First, ideas of entanglement and assemblage can and have been very usefully put to work as a means of documenting and exploring the myriad connections both among people and things, and between things. Second, the notion of a community of practice, when applied to art production and consumption, also has utility in helping us operate at a ‘meso-scale’ between the micro and macro scales outlined above. We wish to bring together scholars working across domains of archaeology that are usually quite separate (e.g. Americanist and Classical) to create a new dialogue on the range of problems encountered in tackling ancient art and the kinds of solutions that may now prove effective in this renewed archaeological interest in ancient art. Approaches may include consideration of particular material processes (e.g. containing) and their semiotic potentialities; the degree to which locally-sited art logics may or may not be mobile; the utility of ideas on the image as taken from work in visual culture/Bildwissenschaft; and the impact of the aesthetic turn, and degree of ongoing resistance to aesthetic perspectives.

Session 009: The Historicity of the Small and Ordinary

Session Chairs: Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon ( and Kristján Mímisson (

Material things frequently slip our attention and are often missing or downplayed in discussions of what it means to be human. This applies not least to mundane, small and ordinary things with which we engage on daily basis, mostly subconsciously and even unintentionally. Such small and ordinary things tend to stand close to us, sometimes in great numbers, and constitute the very building material of our everyday life and practices.

While the recent turn to things, the post-colonial focus on the subaltern and increased interest in the everyday life of “ordinary” people, has drawn attention to the role and significance of small and ordinary things, questions about their historicity have largely been left open. What does it imply, literally, to write history with things? What problems does it evoke? How do we understand the way they assemble, fragment, drift and reassemble, and to what degree can such “object histories” contribute to – rather than disturb – the stories told?

This session is organised by the research project My Favorite Things: Material Culture Archives, Cultural Heritage and Meaning, hosted at the University of Iceland ( ). Like the project this session provides a venue to discuss how things disintegrate, go adrift and become reassembled and archived, and what impact these often non-linear and fragmented trajectories have on their historicity. We invite papers that elaborate on this and related questions from the perspective of distinct and telling empirical material – things, archives and collections.

Session 010: Plantation Archaeology as Slow Archaeology

Session Chairs: Theresa Singleton ( and Matthew Greer

Many practitioners of Plantation Archaeology embrace the tenets of Slow Archaeology including: long-term approaches to field, collections-based, documentary, or oral-historical research, social engagements with communities and fellow workers, critical reflections on power relations in the past and present, ethical considerations and consequences of their research, among other issues. Plantation archaeologists, however, have rarely framed their work as slow archaeology, and this session provides an opportunity to do so.

We invite papers that examine any issue of plantation research as slow archaeology. Some examples might include: long-term research at a particular plantation or plantation locality, engagement with a descendant community and/or other stakeholders, the slowness of documentary or oral-historical research, or the ethics and politics of connecting our research to regional and national discourses. Presenters are encouraged to consider both the benefits as well as some of the challenges and/or shortcomings of slow plantation archaeologies.  

Session 011: Creating foodscapes in colonial and imperial contexts: food, cuisines and food environments in glocal perspectives 

Session Chairs: Meritxell Ferrer (, Guido Pezzarosi, and Ana Delgado

Colonial and Imperial contexts are especially dynamic arenas generative of new subsistence environments, cuisines, and foodways. Born of multiple and fragmentary experiences of migration and displacement that remain entangled in broader scale networks and relations, these contexts were particularly active in the production of new and/or expanded “Foodscapes.”

Foodscape, a term derived from Appadurai’s concept of “scapes,” is defined as the physical, social and cultural spaces and processes that mediate the interactions between people, food, technology, values and material culture related to subsistence and eating. This concept highlights how culinary communities, and communities of consumption, including the social and material environments they are embedded in, emerge and are transformed in a dynamic, and fluid manner, albeit in particular places/spaces, variably influenced by their “global” connections, and engagements with other places and their foodscapes. This perspective allows for more complicated readings of food, cooking and food environments in colonial contexts, beyond dominant narratives of culinary practice, and consumption as nostalgic identity expression/self-identification practices or as the product of domination (change)/resistance (continuity).

This session explores persistence, innovation, transformation and hybridizations of and in food environments, cuisines, and foodways in colonial, imperial and diasporic contexts characterized by their connectivity to other places and the mobility and flows of people, practices, knowledge and material culture between them. This session works from an expansive geographic and temporal perspective that incorporates archaeological case studies from ancient to modern contexts.

Session 012: Inequality and Political Economy: Challenging Archaeological Theory to Be Relevant

Session Chairs: VPJ Arponen ( and Artur Ribeiro

As discussed by Cunningham & MacEachern, the concept of “slow science” can be taken to challenge archaeology to be more critical, engaged, and humane: more and always, again and again, conscious of its political and social implications. However, does archaeological theory today in fact meet this challenge?

At worst, archaeological theory can be an ivory tower completely disconnected from the world and its problems. However, we also believe that at its best, archaeological theory reflects upon the constitution of social and political reality, our own status as active agents in the world, and can thus have a beneficial, enlightening, epistemic relevance.

In this session, we want to challenge theorists to reflect upon the role and relevance of archaeological theory for society. For instance, what might our conceptions of prehistoric inequality tells us about our present social and economic conditions? How can archaeological theory contribute to understanding modern political phenomena such as populism? How does research on political economies of the past contribute to our understanding of current socio-economic challenges?

More generally we want to ask, how do our favorite theoretical isms ―for example, posthumanism on the one hand or the Third Scientific Revolution and big data in archaeology on the other― help us to say something about inequality and political economy? What about concepts like heterarchy, modes of production, anarchism, and collective action theory?

Session 013: Destabilising the Archaeological – Emergent Heritage in Slow Motion 

Session Chairs: Johanna Enqvist ( and Marko Marila (

This session is based on the premise of the historically established double character of archaeological heritage. On the one hand, archaeology is a self-assured discipline, practised by the assumption that archaeological material is automatically heritage to be protected. On the other hand, the sphere of ‘heritage’ has rapidly and immensely expanded during the last decades. More and more phenomena are being categorised as heritage, which has also led to a reconceptualisation of the ‘archaeological’.

Critical heritage studies have aimed to redefine heritage and have argued for its processual nature. Heritage thus exists as prolonged, never-ending and over-generational phenomena that carry the entanglements of matter and meaning. As such, heritage is both transforming in time and positioned in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe – combining the past, present and the future.

We invite papers that explore how the idea of perennially emerging heritage affects the ways we study archaeological heritage. Should we consider our efforts to produce knowledge as analogous to heritage itself and embrace the heritage process in which we are participating? How would the efforts of the scientific community to act as an ageless and organic unity look like? Research projects that last centuries instead of a few years (cf. “The House of Khronos”: When heritage is approached slowly, the slowness of emergent heritage becomes revealed both conceptually and concretely. Also, the self-evident heritage status of archaeological material emerges as a result of slow, gradual sedimentation.

Session 014: Meandering together: slow archaeology, Indigenous collaboration, and epistemic futures 

Session Chairs: Peter Johansen ( and Lisa Overholtzer

Indigenous community-participatory research and -directed research have been slowly transforming archaeological and heritage management practices in North America for the past two decades. Alison Wylie (2014, 2015) has recently drawn our attention to the epistemic enlargements that such collaborative engagements produce for archaeological research. The resulting reconceptualization of archaeological agendas and objectives draws in part on methodological wisdom of our community colleagues that is too infrequently acknowledged. Quite often this methodological contribution involves a slowing down of data recovery, analytical and inferential strategies, as well as the more thorough and intensive investigation of each excavated context and collection. While the ethical advantage and emancipatory potential of this approach may be more readily apparent, it is with the epistemological enrichments that we focus on here. Such a slow approach can facilitate closer attention to the variable temporal rhythms and multi-scalar relationships between diverse assemblages of human and non-human animals, plants, hydrological, geological and technological matter and features, and how these make, and at times, record history. Attention to the “polyphonic assemblages” (the intertwining of autonomous elements) and the meandering search that Tsing (2015) characterizes as the “art of noticing” provide one such approach, one that converges with many culturally-inflected, Indigenous approaches to ecological knowledge, environmental practice, and cultural heritage.

In this session we seek to explore how slower, more attentive, and collaborative archaeological practice has the potential to 1) enlarge the methodological and empirical scope of archaeological research or heritage management, and 2) begin to counter disciplinary legacies of epistemic violence.

Session 015: The Political Dimensions of Slow Archaeology in Collaborative and Community Based Research

Session Chairs: Stephen Mrozowski ( and Murphy, Liam

Whether it takes the form of indigenous archaeology, working with descendant communities, or community-based research more broadly, all involve the slow process of developing long-term relationships. These relationships, and the inherently political nature of collaborative forms of research, typify what is emerging as a “slow archaeology”. Archaeology has always been a slow discipline, however against the backdrop of an accelerated world, the importance of allowing for the unfolding of research that is both politically relevant and empirically sound seems an essential part of the field’s future. Papers in this session forward the notion that collaboration contributes to a more rigorous, politically informed, post-humanist form of research.

Prospective participants should draw on case studies of collaborative/community-based research that focus on the challenges and benefits of such work. Stressing the value of listening, epistemological flexibility, and the incorporation of local knowledge, papers in this session will range widely over the experiences of collaborative/community-based research that have proven most fruitful for researchers and community members alike. These can involve the manner in which research is conceived, the questions that we ask, the development of research priorities – including the way new histories are produced, written and disseminated, as well as the challenges of dealing with what are often contested pasts. The lessons learned from the unfolding quality of community-based research can hopefully contribute to a more politically relevant field in the future.

Session 016: When keeping it “slow” goes wrong

Session Chairs: Stefanie Bautista ( and Elizabeth Colantoni  

The deceleration of archaeology could potentially benefit many aspects of the discipline as it would allow archaeologists to have longer-term and more meaningful relationships with local communities, as well as to reconstruct more accurate narratives of the past, thus offering emancipation from colonialist versions of history. The paradoxical dilemma presented here is that archaeology, on an institutional level, is already slow when it comes to addressing foundational and systemic problems (e.g. people of color in faculty positions, high rates of sexual harassment in the field). How can keeping it slow change or ameliorate issues of racism, gender-bias, sexual violence and harassment, and mental health within the discipline? In this session, we address this paradox and whether archaeology can indeed keep it slow while not causing any more tragedy (La Salle and Hutching 2016).

Session 017: Slow Spaces, Intimate Encounters: Slow Anthropology and the Politico-Ethics of Care

Session Chairs: Tony Chamoun ( and Alanna Warner-Smith

In new ways, scholars are highlighting disciplinary histories, public outreach, and collaborative research design (e.g., Matthews and Constaneda 2008; Gnecco and Lippert 2015; González-Ruibal 2018; Watkins forthcoming). Nonetheless, we argue that the politics and ethics of “everyday” research practices remain under-theorized for those who engage the past. We mobilize slowness to theorize the politico-ethics of care in our routinized practices. Slowness invites synchrony through shared materiality, subjectivity, and kinship such that “care” might be a decolonizing act (Rizvi 2018). In such intimate encounters, we might care enough to slow-down our motions. Yet, in these moments of pause, how we care may enfold us into worrisome politico-ethical relationships and “antipolitical” spaces. Of import is attention to ordinary gestures that we might consider “benign”, but whose ties to broader formations are analytically “occluded” (Stoler 2016:10). We attempt to resist easy-and-ready-made conclusions about disciplinary practices, their effects, and their histories. At stake is grasping the politico-ethical contours present even in mundane research settings.

This session seeks to elucidate what it means to become vulnerable to the everyday relationships researchers enter throughout the sciences and humanities (Smuts 2006; Das 2015). We ask participants to consider “care” in its many permutations, particularly as “care” emerges in research practices. We also encourage participants to think about how their research practices imbricate them with other bodies, broadly conceived, and the social relations therein cited. Participants may also wish to probe the limits of care, e.g., when care might produce politically undesirable relationships, or when care becomes inadequate.

Session 018: New feminisms? Radical post-humanist archaeologies

Session Chairs: Hannah Cobb ( and Rachel Crellin

We live in volatile political times: white supremacy is on the rise, xenophobic attitudes to refugees and migrants are shaping political policy, homophobia and transphobia remain fundamental areas of discrimination and the pervasive and powerful nature of the patriarchy runs through all of these. Moreover, our anthropocentrism has launched the planet on a trajectory towards environmental collapse. Intersectional feminist, queer and post-colonial discourses in broader society have resurged in this context. But what of these approaches in archaeology?

Essential work on sexual harassment in archaeological fieldwork has stimulated a powerful new wave of explicitly intersectional feminist discourse calling out discrimination and demanding a change in our practice in recent times. Yet our theory has seen less radical change. This is ironic because non-anthropocentric approaches have been gaining both traction and critique in archaeology for the last ten years, and many of these draw (often quietly) on the work of explicitly feminist new materialist and post-humanist thinking. Feminist theorists such as Barad, Bennett, Braidotti, Grosz, and Harraway have drawn attention to the ways in which the majority of the population have been excluded from the category ‘human’ by humanism and argue for a radical re-understanding of what the human is and the vibrant worlds they are a part of. The humans that emerge are deeply relational and always historical. They emerge from relations with a diverse cast of other-than-humans and are ever-changing. These approaches are inter-sectional and feminist to their core, yet our engagement with them as archaeologists often overlooks their potential to radically reframe the voices that are marginalised in the past and the present.

In this session we call for papers which challenge this by engaging explicitly with the potential of post-anthropocentric, new-materialist and post-humanist approaches to make bold and radical changes to our ontologies and thus our conceptualisation of marginalised (human and non-human) identities in archaeology. Feminism was a crucial driver of post-processualism and we argue that engaging explicitly with developments in new materialist and post-humanist feminisms is of equal importance if we are to fully realise the promise of the current ontological turn in archaeology.

Session 019: Archives as Archaeology

Session Chairs: Sophie Moore (, Eva Mol, and Rhea Stark

The physical process of archaeology is often a slow one, and historically within academic archaeology the process of writing up the results of research has been even slower. Creating new archaeological data (e.g. through excavation) often takes precedence over working with existing archives. While the question ‘what do we keep?’ is as old as the discipline, the scale of the issue in an era of digital archives is unlike anything we have tackled before.

This session invites papers which consider the value of long term field research projects, particularly in matters of recording and archival use. As a counterpoint we invite papers which consider how the management of many archaeological archives limits the accessibility of our discipline. Does ‘slow’ equate to ‘inaccessible’, or can we take the hard won positives of 20th century archaeological knowledge-building and apply them to ‘faster’ digital methods both in the field and the library? We intend to consider methods for the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of archives and their relation to archaeological knowledge.

We seek papers from people at a broad range of career stages. Project directors or archaeological archivists who have control of archives as well as graduate students using data garnered from other peoples’ projects. Particularly we seek papers from scholars at all levels who are producing broad archaeological narratives through the re-territorialisation of other peoples archives, published, unpublished, digital or paper, orthodox or unusual in their form.

Session 020: Delaying Gratification: the visual and the virtual in archaeological research and outreach 

Session Chair: Sara Rich (

In what would become known as the Stanford Marshmallow Test, psychologist Walter Mischel suggested that children who could delay gratification in favor of an increased reward in the future experienced greater success and “life outcomes.” Recent pedagogical practice has demonstrated that delaying gratification is a learned behavior, and that teaching self-control to students, regardless of economic background, results in greater successes as adults. Yet in our own field of archaeology, there seems to be a tendency toward immediate gratification, particularly when it comes to the visual.

Digital photography as a standard visual recording device has transcended into photogragrammetry, which has the advantage of easily producing 3D models which can become the basis for virtual reproductions. Often using visual data obtained by drones, 3D models and VR tours are placed online where they can be instantaneously and globally accessed. Advocates claim that these technologies democratize archaeology by removing the barriers of capital, along with those of time and space, that might otherwise prevent public access to physical remains. Others claim that these technologies “bring archaeology to life.” To what extent are these claims valid? What are the actual impacts of VR in outreach and research? Is there anything that gets lost in such expediency? Are there other, slower, visual processes that could achieve greater, or different, effects? This session seeks papers that explore the role of the visual in epistemology, cyber archaeology and the posthuman, and ways in which delaying visual gratification might reap more meaningful rewards.

Session 021: Matters of Making: Creative Practice in Art and Archaeology 

Session Chair: Ursula Frederick (

For many artists and archaeologists, research is an embodied experience in which inspiration and knowledge unfold through practices of making and doing. Often emerging tentatively, the path of investigation is rarely straightforward and may involve error, experimentation, hiatus and side-stepping. There is also common ground to be found in a deep attentiveness to materiality and in techniques, such as photography and drawing. While creative art and archaeology practitioners frequently share an interest in conceptual and, arguably, ‘slower’ themes or processes such as bricolage, fragmentation, accumulation, rupture and disentanglement there are, also notable disjunctures and tensions.

This session is aimed at exploring the ways in which creative practice and archaeology, through mutual encounter and engagement, may generate new ways of thinking about being and knowing in the past/present. How might collaborations and intersections in the work of artists and archaeologists inform, reinforce, counteract or transgress modes of representation and value creation. Do creative encounters and engagements with archaeology generate a more considered approach to the matter at hand or do they simply obfuscate? Perhaps they do both and more, and what differences might this make?

In particular the session aims to provide a forum for speakers to discuss their own artwork, creative practice, and/or experience(s) with encountering or doing art and archaeology. Papers may include, for example, exegetical discussion of particular artworks, how creative art and archaeology can challenge ways of thinking, seeing and communicating, and how interdisciplinary collaborations have been received by other sectors of the community, public and academia.

Session 022: Death Drive/Pleasure Principle: the question of archaeological archives 

Session Chair: Brian Boyd (

“There is no political power without control of the archive, if not memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation” (Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, 1995; trans. 1996).

Despite a rise in “archive fever” in the humanities and social sciences at the turn of the century, the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of archive, as a political organizing principle, are discussed only rarely in archaeological writings. In Archive Fever, Derrida distinguished between archive as (a) the relationships involved in memory, the writing of history, and the political authority to identify, classify and interpret and, (b) archive as “shelter”: relegating, reserving, and forgetting – “to burn the archive and to incite amnesia …aiming to ruin the archive as accumulation and capitalisation of memory on some substrate and in an exterior place” (Derrida 1996).

This session welcomes contributions from students and faculty, academic and from outside the academy – working on ideas within and around archives, focusing on the historical responsibilities and possible political futures of archival practice.

Possible themes might include:

*What counts as archaeological archive? – e.g. documentation, recording, digital media (e.g. the “slow data” management of the SLO-data Project, Faniel et al 2018); but also in field categories: e.g. soil as cultural archive, container media.

*The location of the archive in postcolonial discourse – responsibility and ethics. How can the colonial archive be used to produce decolonial futures?

*Decolonizing museums and museum archival practice.

Session 023: Heritabilty and heritage: theorizing archaeology’s encounter with genetics 

Session Chairs: Zoe Crossland ( and Layla Renshaw

In recent decades, the human genome has become a key site through which the past can be detected and narrated. A wide array of approaches have developed, from the early ‘out of Africa’ attempts to reconstruct human evolutionary history, through the development of forensice fingerprinting techniques, to the proliferation of commercial genetic testing and online ancestry tracing.

Genetic history may entail highly personalized, affective and familial modes of relating to the past. It may enable the formation of new collective identities, and challenge older concepts of nation or ethnicity. The large-scale genetic identification of the dead, particularly the dead from resulting from conflict or violence, underscores the bodily and visceral connections between past and present, collapsing the temporal distance between generations. As this technology evolves and becomes increasingly accessible and popular, it is emerging as a compelling example of citizen-led science and biological citizenship.

While there has been some ethnographic work around genetic laboratories (e.g. Rabinow 1999; M’charek 2005) and also exploring how racial imaginaries are refracted through genetic narratives (El-Haj 2012; Nelson 2016), there has been remarkably little written on the conceptual issues raised for and by archaeology (although see Brown and Brown 2011). In this session, we call for papers that take a critical, archaeologically informed approach to genetic history telling, exploring the intersection between heritability and heritage, with a particular focus on the temporality, scale and materiality of genetic technologies.

Session 024: Intersections: the philosophy and poetics of excavating and field practices 

Session Chairs: Eva Mol ( and Yannis Hamilakis

In the last couple of decades, excavation and other archaeological field practices themselves were increasingly subjected to theoretical debate, emphasizing epistemic frameworks and analytical categories. However, theorizing practice also affords the opportunity for philosophical reflection on matter, experience, time, memory, labor, depth. From the philosophy of holes and piles, to notions of time, temporality, and decay, to thinking about multispecies interactions, and the ontology of substances and elements, field practices offer a fertile ground for philosophical-cum-poetic reflection at the intersections of practice and theory. Such an opportunity, with a few exceptions, has not been taken up by archaeologists. This is regrettable, since it would have allowed archaeologists to become producers rather than simply consumers of philosophical insight.

We propose an archaeological, poetic philosophy as a slow practice; a creative, inspirational, reflective engagement with our encounters and performances in the field; we propose that we consider excavation as a playground for philosophical considerations, a place where our tactile and other multi-sensorial interactions can lead to new ways of thinking. Such reflections can enrich our site interpretations and enliven our reports and publications, contributing at the same time original, even poetic, insights to philosophical thinking. A philosophy of matter, of soil, of fire and water, of clay and stone and their entanglement with humans and other sentient beings, past and present, awaits to be written or even performed. In this session, we encourage presenters to experiment with different modes of expression: academic papers, poetry, performance, and photography and video, amongst others.

Session 025: Human Action and Deep Time: A Return to Time and Scale in Archaeology

Session Chairs: Stephen Berquist ( and Thomas Hardy (

This session seeks to explore the importance of long-term change and continuity in human society, culture, and environment through different archaeological perspectives. Archaeological discourse has shifted in the past few decades away from addressing the causative factors of long-term change or continuity, and towards exploring human society in the “ethnographic” time, focused on relatively narrow slices of time within a particular spatial or cultural context (with only superficial reference to larger time scales). This is largely a reaction to earlier attempts to examine large-scale or long-term change, which frequently produced deterministic explanations, reducing or ignoring the agency of humans (particularly processual systems theory), or else was unable to explain how different time scales articulated with each other (such as the Annales approach to history).
Yet this “ethnographic” approach has its own problems, and risks relying overly on analogical reasoning to compensate for a lack of fine-grained data; it also frequently relies on reconstructing archaeological “subjects” in ways that reinscribe the divide between mind and matter, interiority and exteriority, or subject and object. It is also worth asking if this turn bears some responsibility for the perception that archaeology as a discipline lacks unique theoretical insights, as lamented in several recent publications.
Even as archaeologists turned away from examinations of deep-time, post-structuralist thinkers such as Deleuze and Foucault turned towards it, drawing explicitly from archaeological metaphors as a means of tracing the deep roots of contemporary social issues by grounding their analysis in a non-dialectical historical materialism. The “archaeological turn” in the broader social sciences is becoming increasingly prominent. How do we, as archaeologists, productively mobilize these approaches and reinstate the “deep-time” perspective as one of archaeology’s greatest contributions to broader human knowledge?
Contributors should explore varied theoretical approaches through rigorous evidentiary case studies, which are discussed at different spatial and temporal scales; one goal of this session is to move beyond merely recounting the culture history of a particular area over the longue durée. Time (historic or pre-historic), place, and specific phenomena are open.