Archaeology and Futurity Conference Session 1: Archaeologies of/in Crisis and Conflict


Welcome back to
archaeology and Futurity. Before providing a
general introduction to the rationale and themes
behind this conference, I’d like to say
a few thank yous. First and foremost, thank you
to the Joukowsky Institute for providing very
generous support for making this event possible. In addition to the
funding, the Institute and the people that
comprise it have provided a welcoming environment
to seriously consider the themes of this conference. I can’t understate
how open everyone has been to the ideas that may have
seemed initially a bit strange, or maybe they still seem a bit
strange, as Ugo so lovingly asked me last night, what
the fuck were you thinking when you put this together. From the outset, Sue Alcock,
John Cherry, Peter van Dommelen, provided unwavering
support, constructive feedback, and tremendous encouragement
about the substance, content, and organization of this event. The event itself
wouldn’t be possible without the tireless efforts
of Sarah Sharp and Jess Porter, who generously dealt
with my concerns, questions, and
requests, while making all the necessary arrangements
to bring these distinguished speakers together. To be fair, I may have bothered
you a bit more than necessary making excuses to
come downstairs to play with Jess’s dog, Suna. I’d also like to thank Parker
VanValkenburgh and Laura McAtackney for providing
support and feedback when I realized I
may have no idea what I’m doing when it comes
organizing this kind of event. Thank you also to the graduate
students here at the Institute and to the archaeologists in
the Department of Anthropology, who expressed their
interest in this event and put up with my
child-like excitement over the last few months. In particular, I’d like to
think Miriam Rothenberg and Alex Marco for volunteering
to provide assistance throughout the conference. I’d like to thank
Dr. Laurent Olivier for his first thought-provoking
and poignant keynote last night. His insights have provided
us with a fruitful foundation upon which to build
our conversations throughout the day. On that note, I
would like to thank all of the participants
who traveled to be here and contribute
to this conference. I’m not exaggerating
when I say that I’ve been able to put together my
own personal archaeology dream team to discuss the concept
of futurity and its relevance to archaeological thought. I’m greatly looking
forward to hearing all of your contributions and
I hold you all in high esteem. Now onto the themes that
have brought us together. As a discipline, archaeology
has cut its teeth on the study of past. Seeking, uncovering, collecting,
analyzing, interpreting, and curating vestiges or
traces of the human past constitute the
fundamental aspects of the archaeological endeavor. Framing conversations around
the notion of futurity may therefore seem a
bit counter intuitive. Keeping in mind Dr.
Olivier’s insightful keynote and anticipating
today’s presentations, in these brief
opening remarks, I want to suggest that
archaeology is, indeed, a future oriented discipline. Methodologically,
archaeologists are ceaselessly anxious about futures. The truism that
archaeology is destructive forces us to confront
future absences wrought by our own design. As artifacts are
encountered in the field, they’re carefully drawn,
photographed, plotted, and eventually intimately cared
for to ensure their futurity. Sites are protected,
manicured, visited, and crowned with
designations of heritage to imbue a sense of
desired future existence. Museums similarly
collapse temporalities, bringing items from
non-contemporaneous pasts into contact with present
visitors in anticipation of future material relevance. More fundamentally, archaeology
depends on futurity– for an object’s
persistence through time is what we rely upon
for interpreting items of the past in the present. On a more conceptual,
time and temporality are receiving increased
scholarly attention, and archaeologists
have begun to challenge some of the fundamental aspects
of our understanding of time, including chronology,
linearity, singularity, and temporal structuration. Archaeologies of the
contemporary past, archaeologies of the
present, and multi temporality have pushed
the conceptual limits of how historical time has
been traditionally structured. If we take futurity seriously,
as I suggest we should, the implications create
friction with critiques of linearity, progress, and
temporal directionality. Futurity demands not necessarily
an acceptance, but at least a consideration for
that which is yet to be. Time not yet present implies
an aspiration or requirement of directional temporal
movement towards terrain not yet traversed. It’s the very futurity of
things that archaeologists depend upon. Their stubborn bespeaks their
longevity and future existence. And engagement with
futurity both depends upon and challenges the ontological
roots of the succession from past to present to future. The ways in which
archaeologists conceptualize the present
contemporaneity of objects has been of interest
since the 19th century. The challenge
therefore is in dealing with what German philosopher
of history Reinhart Koselleck refers to as the contemporaneity
of the non-contemporaneous. For archaeologists, this
entails confronting the now-ness of material culture
from Greek antiquity to the dusty
knapsacks left behind by Mexican border crosses. What remains
unresolved, however, is how to frame our discussions
of the relative nature of contemporaneity, or what some
referred to as con-sociality. If the historicists approach to
the past rooted in succession and linearity is insufficient
to adequately address the vestiges of the
past in our midst, a consideration a futurity
may provide a fruitful intervention. But this might entail a shift
in how we approach temporality. In responses to critiques of
traditional archaeological structuration of time
and other treatments of contemporary
ruination, some– including people
seated here today– have voiced their concerns
over an apolitical treatment of how archaeologists produce
the archaeological record in time. This ambivalence toward temporal
structuration and the place of politics of the
present coalesce in a concern for futurity. These are concerns of historical
production, of privilege, of memory, of politics, of
our discipline, and of course, unknowable futures. They affect the ways
in which we interpret the archaeological record,
engage with the material world around us and how
we conceive of our roles as archaeologists. In and outside of the
Academy, archaeologists frequently and anxiously attempt
to justify and legitimate the disciplines social
relevance in increasingly uncertain times. How do we see the role
of archaeology shifting in the near and distant future? What role can or should
we play in confronting pressing social issues
of the past and present, including, but not limited
to, unimpeded capitalism, environmental instability,
political conflict, urban decay and ruination,
racism, militarism, heritage management,
and displacement crises. Recent literature sought
to reclaim archaeology as a discipline of things, from
metaphorical and ontological co-option. If we can accept
that we have now asserted proprietorship
of our discipline, where do we go from here? Today we will hear papers
from archaeologists working in geographical contexts
around the world that address these very
questions in an attempt to discern the relationship
between archaeology and futurity. For all sessions
throughout the day, each presenter will
have 20 minutes. And we ask that all
questions and comments are held until all papers have
been presented, at which time we’ll have 30 minutes
for discussion. Having a half hour
for discussion is our way of encouraging
audience questions and comments to facilitate
substantive conversation with these
distinguished speakers. I’d also like to
remind everybody that we do have an active
Twitter account going. The hashtag is
jiaw and #futurity. I had conversations last night. Please don’t make
fun of my literacy when it comes to social media. But I’m pleased to hear that
people are already using these. So thank you. In our first session this
morning, our three presenters consider the role of
archaeology in moments of disciplinary and
political crisis. Our first presenter
is Dr. LouAnn Wurst, who is a Professor of
Anthropology at Michigan Technical University. Dr. Wurst is an
historical archaeologist interested in issues
of class and labor in rural and industrial
context in the United States. Her expertise in
Marxist theory recently informed a co-edited
2014 special edition in the International Journal of
Historical archaeology entitled “Doing History Backward– Toward
an archaeology of the Future”, which was one of the
sources of inspiration for this conference. Please join me in welcoming
Dr. LouAnn Wurst, who will be giving a
paper which asks, should archaeology
have a future? Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Archaeologists have started
talking about the future. We are, of course,
at a conference on the future of archaeology. An upcoming special issue
of historical archaeology addresses prospects
for SHA’s next decades in celebration of
their 50th anniversary. And in 2015, Antiquity
published a special series on our archaeological futures. All of this is firmly
situated within the context that the discipline
of archaeology is authentic and
legitimate and deserves to have a future– that is,
archaeology’s very existence is presumed to be natural
and self evident. The boundaries between
academic disciplines developed from 1850 to 1945. Wallerstein notes that the
existence of these disciplines presumes the naturalness
of the process and that the boundaries
that to come into existence are self evident. Patterson lays out the history
of this contested development in anthropology and archaeology
in the United States. I’ve previously argued the
disciplinary boundaries function ideologically by
circumscribing our roles and arenas for action,
entirely within the boundaries created and assumed to be real. A recent example of this
is the 2013 special issue of Archaeological
Dialogues that asked, can an archaeologist be
a public intellectual? This is a great
question, but I was surprised that the discussion
focused on archaeologists as intellectuals
in public, rather different than my
understanding of what a public intellectual implies. In this paper, I want
to challenge these ideas and think about whether
archaeology should even have a future. Much of what follows
entails examining the relationship between
capitalism and the Academy, neoliberal transformations
in higher education, and some of the ways that
archaeologists have responded. This is the part that
keeps me up at night. I conclude with some suggestions
for alternatives working within the dominate
capitalist academic structures and those that eschew
capitalism itself. And these are the ideas
for action that get me out of bed each morning. Terry Eagleton noted that
our current economic crisis means that discussions
of capitalism are once more on the table. Discussion of capitalism
has increased in archaeology as well. But I’m less optimistic
that they signal any major transformation. The connections between
archaeology and capitalism are well documented for the
birth of our discipline. And we’ve embraced the idea that
archaeology is a middle class practice in diviso modernity. Yet I find it
interesting that there are few sources that
deal with archaeology in the contemporary
Academy, suggesting that it’s easier to
confront these realities for our distant past. Those that do consider
particular arenas of archaeological labor,
such CRM and development archaeology, archaeology
as disaster capital, or analyzes that emphasize the
reserve army of archaeologists laboring as part
time instructors. Rather than engage in
piecemeal critiques, I want to focus on
the larger whole and argue that the Academy
and the entire structure of education in
the United States has always been a part of
capitalist social relations. The connection between
the Academy, the state, and capitalism has
been well documented in an enormous
body of literature. Education in the United States
was not developed and fostered by the state in order
to have an educated citizenry, foster
democracy, or encourage independent and
critical thinking, but rather to create
citizen workers to meet the needs of
capitalist production. Education is a necessary
cost of production– training to reproduce labor
in the capitalist class, manufacturing consent to
sell one’s own labor power, and creating new
technologies and economies to increase efficiency,
create new markets, and offset the falling
rate of profit. archaeology, like all
other parts of the Academy, has played its role. Recent transformations
in higher education demonstrate not that the
Academy has only recently become connected to
capitalism, but instead that the needs of
capital have changed. Neoliberal
transformations have meant that the Academy is increasingly
defined by market relations and has itself become
a source for profit. Education is just
another commodity. This has meant that
students are shouldering the cost of their
education, justified as a necessary expense
for future employment. This is, of course, a big lie. Most students won’t see
the kinds of returns that make the investment worth it. The logic of the market
has been extended to all areas of social
life, so that education is perceived as a personal
capital investment. As Zizek argues, quote, “the
ultimate triumph of capitalism comes about when
each worker becomes his or her own capitalist,
the entrepreneur of the self, who decides how much to invest
in his or her own future, paying for these investments
by becoming indebted.” Withdrawal of state funding
for higher education has meant a stronger integration
with market forces and the need to generate revenue
through increased tuition, external grants, and
development money. Tuition costs have
skyrocketed, as has the push for online classes,
MOOCs, and other ways to generate even more revenue
with the same or reduced labor costs. External grant money has become
more important than ever. Giroux notes that the
endless search for grants means that the university is
annexed by defense, corporate, and national security interests. When I was hired at my
current institution last year, I was told that it
was my responsibility to get grants to pay for
our graduate program. Development as a vital
source of revenue means that our universities
are officially for sale. According to Giroux,
quote, “many universities seem less interested
in higher learning than in becoming licensed
storefronts for brand name corporations.” We feel the effects
of this firsthand in the increased bureaucratic
demands of our everyday work life, through an emphasis on
accountability, benchmarking, assessment, value added, talking
about students as consumers, and all those other aspects
of the capitalist market. Much of the literature on
radical or critical pedagogy does a great job laying out
the capitalist structural conditions in higher education. The solutions are
typically postulated as taking back our
schools to focus on education for democracy. But it’s much more
complicated than this. These idealistic
calls for action are based on the assumption
that the education system is not working and needs
to be reformed. This is false. The education system
does exactly what it’s meant to do– support
and reproduce capital. Zizek reminds us that even our
best intentions are typically turned against us to reinforce
the capitalist structures of inequality. Quote, “the more we
act freely, the more we are enslaved by the system.” We should be especially
wary as these neoliberal transformations
signal a sea change in the relations of labor,
capital, and education. Malott highlights
that the, quote, “recent global trends
in slashing and burning education budgets are
not just the result of greedy, evil
neoconservatives, but rather reflect the
changing needs of capital.” The bottom line is that
increased efficiency means that capital does not need
as many highly trained workers. The much touted assault
on the middle class is simply the
reaction to the fact that these workers are
becoming superfluous in the new capitalist regimes. This has serious implications
for the education system that developed in the
post World War II era to provide these workers. The expansion of the
university system played a significant
role in the legitimacy and dramatic expansion
of archaeology as an academic discipline. If archaeology is a middle
class practice, functioning to train middle class workers,
and these workers are no longer as necessary for
global capitalism, we should all think seriously
about the ramifications for our discipline. archaeology has responded
to these neoliberal transformations in
relatively predictable ways. We’ve seen the explosion
in new programs that take a profit
driven approach to justify their continued
existence to university administrators,
cloaked in pragmatism and the real world
applicability of training archaeological professionals
to work in the CRM industry. Saint Cloud University’s
online MA program in CRM and Binghamton University’s
MA in public archaeology are but two of many examples. The discipline also
continues to produce PhDs at an alarming rate, increasing
the production of professionals unlikely to find jobs. The number of PhDs
in anthropology has increased from 341 annually
in 1991 to 555 in 2011. Many of us, myself
included, have used the Bureau of Labor
Statistics projected increase in anthropology employment
as a recruiting tool to attract new students. The BLS projects a 21%
increase in anthropology jobs between 2010 and 2020. This increase, however, can
not absorb all these PhDs. In addition, the
projected jobs will be an professional scientific
and technical services rather than in education,
positions that would not even require a PhD in
the first place. Indeed, the BLS is
projecting shrinkage in jobs associated with
research and development in the humanities
and social sciences, as well as contraction in jobs
with the federal government. This means that the
limited employment options available
for archaeologists will be in CRM
positions, positions that directly serve capital. In light of this, Wolf-Meyer
makes a half-hearted suggestion that we need to slow down the
number of PhDs being granted. But since this is a
politically difficult solution, he argues that programs need
to start training graduate students for contract
and consulting work. Solutions to this
situation are elusive, especially since I suspect
many of our colleagues have no desire to change things. The “it is what it is”
mentality stemming from the TINA doctrine– There Is No
Alternative to capitalism– makes transformative
action difficult. Wall and Parrin
discuss the magic trick of critiquing a problem or issue
and carrying on regardless. To paraphrase, Zizek,
we may know very well, but we still do it anyway. And of course it’s
true that academics, no matter how enlightened
we try and be, are often the
staunchest gatekeepers. In light of these problems,
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between
reform and revolutionary action to change both the disciplinary
practice and capitalism itself. Reform is based on the idea
that inequity in capitalism can be fixed, or at
least ameliorated by making it more democratic. Performance measures are
framed in the context of “it is what it is”, so we
should just try and make it better for as many
people as possible. This position ignores the
fact that the very logic of capitalism, its
inner workings, is fraught with violence
and jeopardizes our ability to realize our own humanity. To quote Zizek, “the often
catastrophic consequences of the smooth functioning of
our economic and political systems.” Since this violence results from
the very logic of capitalism and its laws of motion,
attempts to make it more democratic or
equitable are doomed to fail. Simply put, the
ability of workers to win class struggles
in one place or time invariably means the
increased exploitation of workers in other
places or times. The success of some
capitalists to profit is predicated on the
failure of others. Thus at root, efforts
to reform capitalism simply perpetuates it. This is why I increasingly
worry whether we can ever transform these relations
from inside the discipline of archaeology and an
Academy completely enmeshed in serving capital. Aber’s call to undisciplined
anthropology, Starzmann’s plea for an exit strategy,
and Hamilakis’ call to pull the emergency brake
are especially prescient. Of course, this doesn’t
mean that we can or should do nothing. Like Starzmann, I
believe that there are fissures in the structures
of the neoliberal Academy that allows us to act
differently to refuse to act to support capitalism. I’ve parsed
alternative strategies into those working
within the structures of capitalist archaeology and
those working against them. An obvious step to reform
capitalist archaeology would be the stop
producing PhDs. We are culpable for
creating our own reserve army of educated, unemployed
archaeological workers. Obviously the solution is
fraught with difficulty. Who would get to
continue to produce PhDs and who would cease to do so? And how would this fit into the
academic archaeological class struggle? These are the
political difficulties that Wolf-Meyer alludes to. And I often find myself thinking
about Bill Roseberry’s article “The Unbearable Lightness
of Anthropology”, in which he argues that elite
anthropology departments have always been more able
to reproduce themselves than the state
institutions resulting from the expansion
of the university system in the postwar period. PhD students from
elite institutions are more likely to land
the venerated tenure track job than others. But to say that these
students are smarter or better is as ideological as saying
that all Arabs are terrorists. Roseberry’s main
point is that this reduces the diversity
in the field and closes spaces were
politically engaged perspectives have flourished. Suggesting that radical
change is even less likely. We know, but still do it anyway. Another thing that we can
do is stop publishing books. [LAUGHTER] The reality of
academic publishing is that companies
generate enormous profits from unpaid academic labor. I myself spent a lot of time
reviewing prospectuses, writing endorsement, and reviewing
books– the peer review coin of the realm. Colleagues think that
writing the next book is the most natural
and obvious activity, and all these books are seen as
evidence for academic fitness, even though author
royalties never really amount to anything. Most students can’t
afford to buy them– well, I can’t either– and many
libraries have reduced their expenditures, so
these books may not even be available to our students. My institutions library
doesn’t have many books at all. So instead of
thinking about writing books that generate profit for
publishing companies, how about we start
self-publishing our own? Since we are already engaging
unremunerated peer review, we could still do this to
ensure the rigor of the work. Let’s accept that our goal
in writing books and articles is mainly about the
exchange of ideas. We can do this for ourselves and
avoid the capitalist structures of the publishing industry. Yes, but I hear you thinking
about the criteria needed to achieve the exalted
position of tenure, right? Self-published books
don’t have the cachet of a book published by Oxford
or the University of Chicago. But here’s the thing– we
define the criteria for tenure. I’ve never worked
with a dean who doesn’t recognize that
different disciplines have different standards for tenure. This is why
departments themselves create promotion and
tenure documents that are approved by their institutions. If archaeologists truly
value community engagement as much as we say we
do, our tenure documents would already reflect this. We know, but still. It should be obvious
that these measures require us to
question and challenge our own academic privilege. Archaeologists are is embroiled
in social Darwinist ideas as any other academics,
accepting the implicit idea that those who have succeeded
are more fit than those who don’t. A serious engagement with
the political economy of the Academy
mitigates these trends. In essence, all of
these strategies require us to work
in concert instead of competing with each other
following capitalist models. We compete with each other for
students, grants, publications, status, and prestige. But what if we didn’t? What if we work
collaboratively instead? I think we are sorely in need
of collaborative archaeological research geared
towards developing a holistic understanding
of global capitalism. The need for this is summarized
in one of my favorite David Harvey quotes. Quote, “we know a great deal
about what divides people, but nowhere near enough about
what we have in common.” How do we recognize
the broader structures of inequality and
oppression that produce the very differences
that influence our perception? How do we address
these structures without falling into
the old theoretical trap of a single totalizing
explanation? Should we work
together combining our individual research
and case studies to emphasize commonalities
in the experience of working people, we could inexorably
gain a greater understanding of the structures of
capitalism itself. We can also start working
collaboratively as academics. One easy solution
is to stop going to archaeology conferences. [LAUGHTER] To get out of the
house, as it were. Disciplinary
conferences socialize us in ways that naturalize
the discipline itself. Other conferences allow us
to question this positioning and see the commonalities we
share as scholars rather than as archaeologists. Think about it. Our conferences are so
comfortable because there are no surprises. We know what to expect
and we act accordingly. Going to other conferences
blasts this wide open and creates opportunities to
help us realize the broader commonality in how archaeology
can contribute to larger social issues, to contribute
as public scholars rather than as archaeologists. Eagleton makes a
clear distinction between the academic with
narrowly restricted areas of expertise and the
intellectual, who shifts promiscuously across topics. Gramshi contrasts the
traditional intellectual who uncritically perpetuates
capitalist structures with the organic intellectual,
whose intellectual activity is critical of the
capitalist status quo. Since the structure
of the Academy and disciplinary boundaries
are geared towards perpetuating these structures,
perhaps it’s time to move beyond the
hidden boundaries and start thinking
about ourselves as public intellectuals
rather than as archaeologists, to bring our craft to bear on
political culture as a whole. As archaeologists,
we are academics. But to be truly
public intellectuals, we need to be more than just
archaeologists in public. McGuire argued that archaeology
is a weak weapon for political action because it cannot
be wielded directly in the struggles over
land life, liberty, and wealth that drive
the political process. This is arguably true of
any academic discipline, since the disciplinary
boundaries themselves thwart this kind
of understanding, this kind of practice. The struggle is to find
room for archaeology to participate in creating a
different life, one that is not based on the logic of
capitalism, one that subverts and transforms inequalities
and oppression, and strives for social justice
and dignity for all humans. This realization opens the
door to think about post archaeological alternatives. Wall and Parrin suggest
that we should set up anti capitalist alternatives
to the fair offered by universities. Fortunately, many
historical models for what this might
look like already exist. One that I’ve been
thinking a lot about is the Work People’s
College, founded in 1906 and associated with the
Finnish Socialist Labor Federation of the International
Workers of the World. Hundreds of students trained
at the WPC– they were mostly lumber workers and miners–
until it closed in 1941. The core courses
offered include working class history, Marxist
economics, and sociology, in addition to the more
practical journalism, industrial unionism,
and bookkeeping. Their pedagogy rejected
memorization since, quote, “rote methods of learning would
merely result in dogmatism and fail to fully develop
the student’s ability to think critically.” A 1929 textbook produced for
the IWW youth summer courses cover topics such as human
evolution, early human history, the shift from
feudalism to capitalism, the history of the
American labor movement, socialist theory, and Marxism. Sounds great, right? What makes this such an
interesting anti capitalist education model is that
the idea of the WPC was revived in 2006 when the
Twin Cities branch of the IWW decided to provide free,
radical, and practical education to the working
people other community. A flyer for one
course reads, quote, “credit for participation
in this class is not transferable to any
state or private institution, but only to the daily struggle– [LAUGHTER] For the emancipation
of the working class.” Inspiration for other anti
capitalist education efforts can be gleaned from
the Zapatistas, Venezuelan Alternatives,
and many, many others. In this paper, I’ve suggested
that the entire structure of archaeology as a
discipline is implicated in capitalist structures,
and that working within our
disciplinary boundaries means that our work
perpetuates and reproduces those structures. Neoliberal capitalist
transformations have positioned to archaeology
as more marginal than ever before, the academic
equivalent of the periphery of the periphery,
since reproducing the middle classes
is less and less necessary to the functioning
of contemporary capitalism. Our disciplinary responses
to these neoliberal transformations have only
served to further enmesh us in those theory structures. We know, but still. I would rather work
towards a future without archaeology, a future
where rather than perpetuating and reproducing the
discipline itself, we expand our intellectual
energy working through and against the
structures of capitalism. I tried to offer
practical ideas of what we can do once we stop
hobbling ourselves by our own disciplinary
boundaries and ideas of “it is what it is.” This is a formidable task. But we know. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much, LouAnn. I think the point about
conferences is very well taken for those who just
returned from Orlando and were just at SAS in
Disney World, no less. One second as we get set
up on the system here. Beautiful. All right. Our next presents or is
Dr. Laura McAtackney, who is an associate professor
in the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus
University in Denmark. Dr. McAtackney’s work
focuses on the politics of memory, materiality,
heritage, and representation on the post conflict
landscape of Northern Ireland. She’s the author of An
Archaeology of the Troubles– the Dark Heritage of
Long Kesh/Maze Prison, published in 2014 with
Oxford University Press. Today she’ll be giving a
paper entitled “Archaeological Revelations in the Enduring
Post-colonial Post-Conflict State.” Please join me in
welcoming Dr. McAtackney. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much. And thank you for
the invite to talk. Got some water. There’s a lot of really
interesting ideas that Matt’s brought
together in this conference. And I’ve been trying
to engage with him and I’m hoping I hit the
right mark with this. But it’s connecting really
strongly the type of work I’m doing at the minute
in Ireland, which is going through a big
commemorative moment, and which I’ll talk
a little bit about. And particularly I really
enjoyed Laurent’s paper yesterday, talking about this
idea of how materials have this ability to kind
of disrupt futures, even if we don’t
actually know it. It always has that
latent possibility. And again, I’ve
kind of seen this with the work I’ve been
doing in prisons in Ireland. Just to give you a little
bit of an overview. David Lowenthal once remarked
that history does not exist in Ireland because
the past is still part of the present and
therefore is political. I think this is partially true. Some of the past is
political and some of it is not as political. And some of it is more
meaningful than others. In 2016, we’re hitting a kind
of a first high point of what we call a decade of
commemoration, which is really getting slightly overwhelming
now as we hit about three or four years into it. But there’s one
commemoration after another, linking them to class
politics with commemorations of major strikes in
Dublin from 1913. Then we moved on to
the First World War. And now we’ve hit into the
Easter Rising commemorations, which is considered the
first kind of major move toward the Republic of Ireland
become an independent state. In northern Ireland, we have
a different relationship with these type of
issues, particularly because of the impact
of the troubles, which happened in between. And I think these kind
of make some events more political than others
in different places. And I’ve noticed this in
how Belfast and Dublin have commemorated Easter Rising. And we’re also in
Northern Ireland having the commemoration of the
Battle of the Somme in July, which is seen as a kind of blood
sacrifice of Ulster soldiers which created the
kind of partition around Northern Ireland. So it’s a highly political
time and it’s also considered a highly
difficult time because of the repercussions
of the 50th anniversary in 1966, seen of one
of the kind of founding acts of the troubles itself. So they’re considered
very dangerous in a very political time. But I also think it shows
there is also at this time a heightened public interest
in what we remember of the past and how we incorporate it into
the present and direct futures. And so there is that potential
for changing old narratives. These connections between
the past and the present are part of the
national consciousness. Excuse me. And there is a
kind of an openness to reassessing particular
aspects of the past, which are particularly open to
public debate around what’s important in the present. And I’d say particularly
the role of women has started to become quite
a big issue– particularly because we’re linking
into this kind of push back against a lot
of women’s rights, particularly around issues of
abortion and contraception. And that’s linking
into us wanting to find more women who
were involved in 1916 and actually trying
to create narratives which are the more gendered. And I think the material culture
is really central to some of these re-imaginings. So engaging with
the past now reveals clear dis-junctures,
this interweaving of tradition and innovation
that are strongly influenced by the contemporary
context and perceived essence of time. And I think this
shows differently in different parts of Ireland. For the example of the recent
commemorations of the Easter Rising, the more
settled– and I would say self-satisfied–
Republic of Ireland feels a distancing of the past. There’s an ability to attempt
objective reassessment. There is a politics, particular
around this issue of gender. But there is more of a place
for multiple narratives. And this ease is seen in the
kind of happy commercialization of memory and how we remember
the Easter Rising, and even a degree of kind of mockery
and a kind of playfulness around it. You don’t really find
this in Northern Ireland. It’s much more contained
and traditional form of commemoration. It’s overtly political,
which is bred from long term disconnects, particularly
in nationalist communities from official
narratives, the vacuum left by the lack of
official engagement from both the recent past
at a governmental level and the importance
of claiming ownership in the desire to
explicitly conflate the past with the present. And as the great
philosopher, my mother, said, it’s because the Easter
Rising still matters and that’s why we have a totally
different approach to how we commemorate it. Just to show you some examples
of the type of posters and types of material evidencing
of what’s going on– this is in Dublin. I was trying to find my
most irrelevant connection to the Easter Rising. And I think the
“Scappermania, the Rising II”, which is a kind of martial
arts kind of contest possibly won the competition. But I also find it interesting
that the discussion of commemoration for me is–
particularly in Dublin– is really linked very much
to an idea of celebration. And this is overtly
seen in this poster for the wax museum celebrating
the 1916 Easter Rising. There’s absolutely no connection
to the kind of politics and the darkness of
these type of things. In Belfast, it’s a different
type of connections, and they’re very much connected
to contemporary politics. The connection to
the proclamation of the republic with the
rainbow background and “Cherish all the children of the nation
equally” links into the fact that we still don’t have equal
marriage in Northern Ireland, despite having in the
Republic of Ireland. And I find really
interesting, this use of them of these old
newspaper headlines from 1918, which was
the first selection that Sinn Fein because the
largest party in Ireland. “If you really want an Irish
Republic, vote for Sinn Fein”, which is actually in Belfast
and we have local elections coming up in the next month. So there’s absolutely
no subtlety in how they’re conflating
the past with the present. I also find this rather
amusing, that someone decided– I think probably in a
fit of drink– to attack a British postbox with
green paint, rather pearly. And it’s interesting how it’s
represented in the media, because they make it look
a little more professional than that. It’s not like you never
see the groin splattered with paint around it. So I think it
really was probably 10 pints in kind of action. But I did find this
interesting– on the right hand side, these posters have
appeared all over the place. And a lot of them are trying to
actually– this commemoration is of people we’ve all heard
of, the kind of Patrick Pearses and the James Connollys. But there’s an
increasing attempt to insert women who
we haven’t heard of. And this is Elizabeth
and Eleanor, or Nel Cor, who were two women who
were involved in the rising and the build up to the rising. They ended up losing
their jobs afterwards and they went back to
Belfast, and suffered quite strongly from
their connections to the nationalist cause. And I studied this area and
I’ve never heard of them. So I think it’s
kind of interesting that there’s an attempt by
kind of public intellectuals in the area to reinsert
women’s roles in. So they are trying to use the
kind of politics of the context to at least add new narratives
and try and rethink, not only just how Belfast had its
role in the rising– it’s not just a Dublin event–
but also trying to put these kind of
gendered emeralds in and trying to move beyond
the things we already know. I also find this
kind of interesting. I’ve been spending years
walking up and down through West Belfast, taking
pictures of murals and seeing how they’ve
evolved over time. And this hunger strike
mural has been in place at least since 2006, probably
a little bit longer than that, and I’ve been charting its kind
of changes over the period. And this turned up just
before the Easter Rising commemoration. So it’s the first time it’s
changed from a hunger strike memorial to a kind of
Easter Rising one– though it is a little
broader with the “From bullet to ballot, evolution
of our revolution.” So I think again, the politics
of commemoration in Belfast is so much more
about the present than it is about the past. And you know, it’s very
noticeable in how different and particularly
kind of how solemn a lot of the commemoration is. It’s an unresolved
political issue. I do find there’s
some problems, though. Like I study women from
this period and I’m very keen that we kind of
gender the period much more. I think there’s a lot of really
important and interesting women. And they really are an indicator
of how much the women’s movement regressed after
the kind of founding of the Republic, which we don’t
really like talking about. Sorry. Actually moved to
the free state. The Republic didn’t
actually form until 1949. But there has been kind of
an opportunism around how to use commemoration
to make money and to kind of create
what Cormac O Grada would call bad history and
bad commemoration. And I’ve had some discussions
with historians about whether the public
engage with stuff and it’s not really right,
does that matter anyway? And I do think it does. Richmond Barracks was a
British army barracks. It was used in a number
of ways during what is called the Revolutionary
Period, from about 1916 to 1924. And at one point,
it processed women who were held during the
Easter Rising, probably for no more than
a couple of days. And it’s been reconfigured now
as a place of female memory, when actually it really has very
little to do with women at all. I think holding women
for a day or two is not the main
narrative from that site. Actually of a more
marginal narrative is probably British
soldiers who were held in that site who
are really not considered in the national memory. But also, it was used as a
Christian brother’s school. It was a kind of squat for
really, really pro-Dubliners for quite a long period as well. And these stories, I
think, are slightly more meaningful than trying to
insert gender into a site that nobody else wants, which
is pretty much how I read it. And so I do think
that this period, these commemorative events
offer the opportunity for wider public discourse than
what happened in the past and what it means now. And following on from
Laurent’s talk yesterday, I think the material
remains essential to that potential reassessment,
because they retain this latent ability to provide new meanings
that we can– though not always found at
the time– they can be found at different times. And often it’s the
contemporary context, one, of getting funding to do the
research– to actually go and look for things–
but of just having the right moment in
time to actually talk about these things, particularly
the 50th commemoration of the Easter Rising, which
is notable for the Irish government wanting
to have better relations with the
British government and trying to get official
status within the EC. So it’s much more open to be
having kind of broader ideas. But gender was just not
one of them at that time. So now it’s really about trying
to look for women’s roles. And which, of course,
I’m really in favor of. But not when they’re creating
roles that didn’t really exist. Defunct prisons, I think, of
course, because I work in them, are very important
in this context, particularly because
they link to issues of political violence. A lot of game changing
events happened in them. And they reveal a vulnerability
and to go see the realities of government power. And I think that’s
also quite important. So we naturalize some of these
things that have happened as inevitable, when
actually they weren’t. So the two sites that I
know best are Long Kesh/Maze Prison in Northern
Ireland, which was famously called an icon of the troubles. It’s life as a
functional prison closely mirrored the course
of the conflict. It was open as a prison in
1971 and it closed three years after the Belfast
Agreement in 2001. And a lot of things
that happened inside it acted as a catalyst for
the troubles outside. And also it was a reactor,
what was happening outside. It had a very close
relationship with the conflict. And also, of course, it
becomes this troubling remnant then of conflict whenever
we supposedly move into a post-conflict state. And I kind of want to look at it
against another site Kilmainham jail as kind of a comparative to
see how important the materials are these sites, and
for the types of stories we can tell from them. Long Kesh/Maze is a huge site. It contains– an
archaeological survey of it showed that it contained over
300 buildings, none of which have been completely
torn down because it has such a lot of land
that, every time they needed a new building,
they just moved on. They didn’t knock anything down. So you had a whole
site progression. You had two different
forms of prison. Of course, there’s a
connection to hunger strikes and to actually a lot of
stories that we don’t even really know very much about,
like the prison officer stories, particularly the
number of prison officers who were sent over from
Scotland and England who had to live on the site. So there’s a lot of different
things that come out of this. But the potential to
tell those stories is retained in this
site, which whenever you get rid of this site,
kind of loses that ability. The material remains of the site
when it closed were immense. It was just actually
overwhelmingly far too much stuff. I was kind of almost happy
when I couldn’t get access to the site, because it would
just become a kind of recording exercise for all the stuff. And it really look kind
of like a Mary Celeste, like whenever you walked
around, it literally just looked like it had been abandoned. There’s people’s coffee
cups and sweet wrappers still sitting where they’d
been before they left. And for the last day,
whenever they’re working, September 2001. So it just was
really sitting there waiting for a really in depth
archaeological investigation, which has never happened. Kilmainham jail,
on the other hand, is an 18th century prison. It was built in 1796. It was closed for the
last time in 1924. And it’s equally iconic
due to its connection with political prisoners from
the United Irishman rebellion 1798 onwards. And it also connects to other
social narratives in Ireland, particularly the famine and
transportation of prisoners to Australia. So it is a really
important site. Now it’s one of the top five
praying sites in Ireland, and it’s one of those places
that a lot of tourists go to to get their kind of dose
of political Irish history. Again, it’s an interesting
site for an archaeologist because you can see
from the two rings you have different styles
which date from different ideas of what prisons were for
and how they were used. So it’s kind of an
interesting space to look at how
prisoners were housed and how they were able
to counteract it or not. The project I did
there was looking at graffiti, which is only
left in one wing, which is the west wing. The reason it is left, because
that wing was considered so old and decrepit that they
kept planning to knock it down, even as it was being
reopened as a heritage site. So it left this
reminiscence behind. So I took a project of spending
pretty much nine months going around every tiny scrap
of that building, recording lots and lots of graffiti. And I took around
10,000 photographs trying to look–
actually, the aim of it was to look for
stories of women, particularly related
to the Civil War, which was the last period
of imprisonment before the site closed. And actually I found–
I found women’s stories, but I also found a lot of other
stories I wasn’t expecting. What I did find
was that the women who were held there
in 1922 to ’23 really didn’t meekly
serve their time. They created a lot of
graffiti and a lot of it was quite derogatory
to the people who were holding them, who were
neither the people who they’d fought against the
British with the year and now imprisoning for
their roles in doing that. And we were able to find a lot
of women who we didn’t know. In 1985, the first
major book about women of the period guestimated
around 300 women had been held
during that period. We find from graffiti and
autograph books around 650 were definitely held. We know there’s discrepancy, so
there could’ve been even more. So we find names and
addresses on walls, which is really helpful. But I kind of love some of
these things they write as well. Like “May the harp of old
Ireland never want for a string while there’s a gut in
the Free State Army.” And these are written in the
middle corridors in the prison. So they’re absolutely
not afraid of the people who are imprisoning them. And this idea that
prisons are about control– they’re negotiated
and the power relations are obviously very negotiated. But the women did suffer
for being held in these, particularly the kind of taint
of middle class and upper class women, which many
of them were, being held in prisons by soldiers
and men of ill repute did impact on a lot of their
reputations in their lives afterwards. And then I find a
lot of soldiers, a lot of British soldiers. So many of them I find, whenever
we started to look them up, are actually of
Irish background. And whenever I tell
people this in Dublin, they go, yeah, they’re
probably from Belfast. I’m like, no, actually,
they’re mainly from Dublin, Dundalk, Cork. This idea that people couldn’t
be an Irish nationalist and a British soldier
at the same time is an idea of post-partition. It’s not an idea that
was current at the time. And then lastly, if we want
to look at stories that people really don’t want to
talk about is the issue of sexual violence against
women during this period– this kind of idea that
it didn’t happen, mainly because women didn’t go
to the place fondly enough and didn’t really talk about it. But I find it interesting. One of things actually
that made me feel a bit ill when I found it–
there was this piece of graffiti that
soldiers had created where they’re all standing
around drawing pictures near a window. And I just noticed how the
pubic area had been like, scarred out of the woman. It just kind of made
me think about, well, this kind of sinister edge to
these kind of images– what is this saying about
men’s relationships with women at the
time whenever they’re drawing pictures like this and
gouging out their pubic areas. And I was asked, so
maybe it was just someone trying to cover it. Whenever they’re trying
to cover graffiti, they paint over it
or they draw over it. They don’t gouge
out the pubic area. So I kind of really
wanted to think more about what women’s roles, what
their experiences really were. And just because they didn’t
talk about sexual assault doesn’t mean it didn’t
happen, because there’s more than enough
hints in the records when I began to look at it
to show that it did happen. So just to link very quickly
into the future, which I’m supposed to be talking about. So these troubling remnants
of past conflict, I think, retain a potential
to unsettle, but also to allow new narratives
of the past to emerge. And this is particularly
important with public memory, as in negotiation, particularly
when in commemorative periods. By retaining material culture
such as Kilmainham jail and structures, even
simply by preventing the complete destruction,
as Laurent said yesterday, they retain the potential
for interpretation, which is why I think they’re
uncomfortable, unruly, and important, even when
they’re not important. Even when they’re kind
of derelict and nobody’s looking at them, they retain
that potential to be important. And I think possibly we have
to push this potential forward through engagement with other
more creative disciplines, including performance art. And here’s my final project. I get to do all these
really interesting things, because people are interested
in women and graffiti at the minute. So I was contacted by a
group of performance artists who were doing this
project which they call Future Histories, which is going
to take place in Kilmainham jail on the 21st of May. I’m still not entirely
sure what I’m going to do or why I agreed to do this. But what we want to do is
to try and reconfigure space and try and create new meanings
in space, which actually reflect real old meanings. And one of the things I found
when I was doing my studies was that the women who were held
during Civil War in Kilmainham jail, which was seven years
after the Easter Rising, held the official anti-treaty
Republican commemoration of the Easter
Rising in the jail. And many of them wrote
up these nice little kind of less of what they did
and where they did it. And one of the
things I noticed is that the women were
commemorating the men and they were barely
commemorating themselves. And there roles,
they kind of were involved in writing
them out, as well as the men writing them out
and the media writing them out. They actually wrote
themselves out of it. So what we want to do
is use one of the cells in the basement,
which is a punishment cell, to have a performance. And we’re going to bring people
in small numbers, in the dark, and we’re going to recite only
the bits connected to females in this commemoration. So we want to have a
partial commemoration of a partial commemoration. And the other thing is that
the person I’m working with, this performance
artist, is from Dublin. I’m from Belfast. So the issues of having
different accents is actually important to try and
put this northern perspective back in, which again, is
completely written out of the memories of the period
because of this discomfiture about partition happening
like only five or six years afterwards. So I really like
this idea of trying to create this
unsettling environment and actually use creative
arts to kind of make people question what it’s
like to be in prison. It’s not a Disney prison. It’s not somewhere
that’s nice and where you go with your
family for a nice day. It should be unsettling. It should be dark. And people should
have to really think about what went on in there
and the role of gender, the role of memory, and the
role of different narratives that we don’t really
want to talk about. This was Kilmainham
jail in the 1950s, before they decided
to reconstruct it as a heritage site. It had been left derelict for
nearly 30 years at this stage. And it’s a crumbling
mess against the picture I showed you earlier. But I argue that just this
structure standing retained that possibility of being
able to find those narratives through graffiti. This is Long Kesh/Maze, which
there’s not very much left of, which now doesn’t really
retain a lot of possibilities for the structures, at least. One of the things
I found interesting when the government
decided they didn’t want to keep the site–
it was too troubling, and they would only
retain like the couple of representative buildings,
even though they don’t need the site for anything
else– people started taking bits
of the site with them. So it’s kind of been
re-contextualized in community museums. So there’s still that
potential for these things to tell us different stories. But we kind of lose some of
that when structures like this disappear. So that’s all. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much, Laura. Our final presenter for
this morning’s session is Dr. Dimitris Papadopoulos. Dr. Papadopoulos is is an
adjunct assistant professor of anthropology
at Lehman College, part of the community system,
and a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute for
Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. His work combines landscape,
materiality, digital, anthropological, architectural,
and archaeological approaches, and analyzes of memory
and representation at sites of heritage
in Greek border zones. Today he’ll be presenting
a paper entitled “Suspended landscapes– Crisis,
Urgency, and Materiality at the Margins Of Europe.” Please join me in
welcoming Dr. Papadopoulos. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Thank you, Matt,
for the invitation. It’s great to be here. So what I’m going
to talk about it is the challenges,
the possibilities or impossibilities, for an
archaeology of crisis, urgency, and emergency. I will use different
perspectives in terms of disciplinary angles
to that, and different scales perhaps, some of which
are not necessarily within the archaeological
domain, however one defines it. But I think– I believe–
that the problematic here is not limited to
merely metaphorical use of archaeology,
because I believe we already have plenty
of metaphorical uses of archaeology. It’s rather originates from
the field, on the ground, through things and spaces, and
from the following question– how do we trace and capture the
often elusive and less visible realities of crisis
and emergency? How can we flesh out
material histories of ongoing economic
degradation, forced migration, humanitarian disasters? So the question comes from
a very real felt crisis happening right now in Europe. So the European
so-called refugee crisis and the state of emergency
on Europe’s southeast borders overlaps within a still
ongoing Greek financial crisis. And there’s 30 policies that
have a devastating impact in urban space, as most
explicitly reflected in the case of Athens. Now this double crisis is a
symptom perhaps of a deeper, more systemic European crisis,
currently shapes and transforms border, cities, and
landscapes in ways that may indicate a
rupture with the past, but also decisively frame
any sense of the future. This transformation is
a major transformation. It’s a still unfolding project
of spatial and material production and destruction,
a process of slow violence that is very real and
felt on the ground, yet far from complete. So the question is,
how can we talk, how can we analyze, how can we
visualize this transformation? I will highlight
three aspects here. The first thing is
the conceptual power of crisis as a framing device. Everything is seen
through the crisis. Number two, its
capacity to generate spatial temporal tensions. And third factor, the
material dimension of the crisis– its
ruin-making power. I will try to match
that with a brief note on a different historic
moment in Greek history, that of the Greek civil
war, and the materialities that it is produced and
that have worked on. So my presentation is going
to be a little bit fragmented because it comes from different
places and times of field work, sort of both
archaeological field observations, but mostly
ethnographic field work. And you can see the sites here. This is Athens. This is the borders that are
shared between Greece, Albania, and Macedonia. That was one of the
major fields I worked on. And this is Lesbos
in the Aegean Islands that has been at the foreground
of the refugee crisis right now. And I think this point
is a good opportunity to mention that,
as we speak, there is an archaeological conference
in Lesbos called Archaeological Dialogues. And I should stress
that there is a specific session
about the archaeologists of the contemporary world. And that is specifically
important in the Greek context. And that’s good news. Now I think most
of you are quite familiar with the
statistics and figures of the Greek financial crisis
going on for over six years now. Here’s some statistics
about the refugee crisis. Greek Aegean islands,
Lesbos, Gyaros, Keros, Samos, have been the first
landing points for hundreds of
thousands of refugees aiming to reach central Europe
through the so-called Balkan routes. According to the
UN refugee agency, there have been over a
million of sea arrivals in the Greek islands and
2015, and over 170,000 in 2016 so far. So that data is
already outdated. There have been 3,773
deaths or missing people, and 716 already
in 2016, including a great number of children. But beyond the
statistics, we need to acknowledge some basic
shortcomings of analysis and scholarly work when it
comes to the Greek crisis or the European crisis. First, despite the
increased production of scholarship in
last years, there’s a failure to capture, analyze,
and most importantly, respond to the crisis in a timely,
relevant, and socially engaging way. Analytical frameworks,
methodological tools, have failed to fully
map ground realities for the pace and density
of historic events and more evidently forecast any
possible future trajectories. Second, we need the acknowledge
that the crisis is now a buzzword. It is a self evident condition
justifying scholarly work and interest. But we need to interrogate
the very concept of crisis as an analytical device
and critical thinking about its implications. Now one of the most interesting
aspects of the crisis has to do with the special
temporal tensions it creates. The refugee crisis,
and especially the aggressive anti-immigrant
response by European states directly undermines the
vision of a borderless Europe and triggers conflict,
division, and tension over secularized and
militarized borders. At the same time, the
Greek financial crisis, as perceived an
experienced especially in major urban
centers like Athens, has unleashed multi
temporal narratives, retrieved past memories
of both decline and glory, and has reactivated recent
or more distant layers of the urban landscape. What is perceived at
historical significant times has fueled protest,
but has also opened up possibilities for imagining
alternative futures through social movements. Historical moments
in periods as recent as a military junta or
the Greek civil war, or as distant as the
Hellenistic times are being instrumentalized
and embedded into political
discourse and action. Yannis Hamilakis has recently
talked about the care politics of the discovery of the ancient
Macedonian tomb at Amphipolis in northern Greece, a major
archaeological event that was a big deal recently in Greece. And other scholars have also
highlighted and discussed the multiplicity of
narratives challenging linear views of time as a basic
condition of the Greek crisis. This temporal disturbance,
this turbulence of layers and memories, or
what the [INAUDIBLE] has called “archive trouble”,
is a phenomenon of a crisis that is manifest
in different formats and platforms, from art
projects and cultural production to performative
modes of protest. Now, this is– on the
left and on the bottom– this is a makeshift memorial
for a 16-year-old who was shot by a police officer in Athens. And that was before
the crisis actually started– the crisis
started in 2010– but has been associated with
this memory and the politics of the crisis. And actually you can see some–
this makeshift memorial has some really material
practices into it. People will leave objects
there and go visit and they’ve even
changed the street sign to the name of the
16-year-old who was killed. The crisis, however, and
perhaps most importantly, is a way also for shaping,
destructing, materially transforming the city. One would ask, where
are the ruins of crisis? Now when we think
of Greek ruins, we tend to think
of certain things. And on the right, you can see
the obvious metaphor– broken marble, broken future. The Parthenon. The image on the left is
a little bit trickier. Because there’s a sign, “come
see our ruins”, but there are not ruins to see. There’s an absence of ruins,
which I find interesting. And although this
political cartoon implies the absence
of classical ruins, I think this idea of absence
ruins is interesting. In a sense that while the
obvious absence of ruins is out of the Greek
classical ones, the reference also could be read
as an absence and invisibility of the ruins produced by the
current social political crisis and the institutions
that have produced it. This absence of contemporary
ruins is telling, and it has to be addressed. The invisibility of the
crisis as a ruin-making, as a ruination process–
and we need to think here of Amstaller’s definition
of a ruin as both a claim about the state of a thing
and the process affecting it. This absence has been
recently addressed by anthropologist [INAUDIBLE],
proposing and highlighting the need for a cartography
or visuality of the crisis. What does it really
look like on the ground? Not just the structural
changes and damages that it has incurred, but actual
descriptions of its appearance? A radical genealogy of
the crisis– maybe even an archaeology of it. The Greek financial crisis has
transformed to great extent and is still shaping
Athens in visible ways from the battened
storefronts and neighborhoods of the new poor, to dismantled
public health services or ruined infrastructure. It has also fueled racist,
xenophobic violence in city streets
and neighborhoods, as most notoriously demonstrated
by Golden Dawn, the Neo-Nazis organization currently
on trial for hate crimes. At the same time, new urban
movements and networks of protest and solidarity
have also emerged. Although the Greek crisis
has been associated through global media through
images of street riots and violent confrontations
with the police, both social movements and
individual performative acts of protest have also
marked the urban landscape. Self managed public spaces,
building squads, graffiti and wall murals, art
installations and performances, or makeshift memorials
like the one we saw, are special and
material practices of claiming the urban landscape
to an inventive repertoire of tools and objects– from
spray paints to street signs and from candles to concrete,
or reuse building materials. Now this materiality of the
crisis has a dual nature. It can be seen both as
a still-incomplete layer of destruction, of slow
violence, or as a set of ruins in the making, but
also as a trace of what the very experience of the
crisis and the response to it, or the resistance
to it, produces. In other words, these
things and places do not just constitute
the material record of the devastating
impact of the crisis. They also constitute
the material memory, to use Laurent Olivier’s
term, still in the making of the ways in which
citizens and social groups are trying to cope with it,
through things and spaces, through resistive spatial
and material practices. Now I think that the
materiality of the double crisis is more evident in the
case of the refugee situation in Greece. This is an image
from the Idomeni camp at the Greek Macedonia border. This is not an organized camp
with proper infrastructure. This is a makeshift
refugee camp. And we are seeing that the
refugee crisis in Greece is producing new special
entities and materialities. We have reinforced borders. We have border
checkpoints and patrols. We have surveillance and
support infrastructure. We have exceptional sites, such
as refugee camps, detention centers, both at the border
and in major urban centers, including Athens. These are some of the
sites I will refer to on Lesbos in the Aegean. This is the main refugee
camp, the organized camp, on the island, called Moria. I think it’s important
to understand that for some of these
spaces and objects, documentation is an urgent
or time sensitive task. The main camp that we
just saw, for example, is a makeshift camp, as I said,
with no proper infrastructure that will be
eventually evacuated. This, again, is from
Moria camp on Lesbos. Rubber boats, the dingies that
refugees use to cross the sea, and life jackets are collected,
reused, recycled, abandoned. They’re creating a new
layer on the island. And they also have
different uses. As you can see on
the top left, this is what the Lesbos
shorelines look like. These are all life
jackets left there. And on the bottom right,
it’s when they’re actually being used on the boat. What you see on the
top right and bottom left is an art installation
project by China’s artists Ai Weiwei. And he’s used original
life jackets from Lesbos as part of an installation
at the Berlin concert hall. So it’s a transformation
of this object into a formative practice. Again, another item, another
part of the material culture of the refugee crisis– the
thermal blankets the refugees use when they finally land. And down there, you can see
there are also some other kinds of uses for thermal blankets. Now I would like to single
out a certain site on Lesbos because I think it best
reflects multiple aspects and levels of what we
call crisis materiality. So this is at the outskirts
of the port town of Lesbos, Mitilini, and this is a cemetery
called Agos Panteleimon. Now Agos Panteleimon is the
final destination of the poor or the subaltern of the
invisible inhabitants of Lesbos, of minorities,
including Jehovah’s Witnesses, and lately of refuges. This cemetery is
filled to capacity. According to local authorities
and to the morgue personnel, there are currently
only seven places left. And that was back in
the summer of 2015 when I was doing the research. And this part of the cemetery
is where the refuges are buried. And it’s kind of
resembles mass graves. You have misspelled,
makeshift burial signs made out of a piece
of wood or marble, with only the first name
scribbled in Greek or Arabic, or just the date of
death, not even a name, having unknown on the stone. Now the inability
to properly group the other, the unpreparedness
for the presence of the other, seems to be in conflict with the
island’s recent past, including a historic refugee flow
from Asia Minor of Greeks during the Greek Turkish
population exchange is 1922-1923. What’s interesting though
is– and I’ll only briefly mention that–
that recently there have been some interesting
events in Lesbos. On the top right, you have a
common prayer of Greek Orthodox priests with some of
the Muslim refuges for the deaths in the Aegean. On the left, you have a
sort of a makeshift train space at the Idomeni camp. It’s one of the camps
in northern Greece. Now I think I don’t
have much more time. So I will very briefly
note some analogies with the materialities
of the Greek civil war. So this is a region in northwest
Greece, in Prespa lakes. And these are deserted
houses and deserted villages following the Greek civil war. The region was
devastated by the war. And there are certain
traces and objects that are still observable. So these are objects
found in one of the caves that was used as a
hospital to treat the wounded during the war
by the guerrilla fighters. So the date of these objects
is roughly 1948, 1949. I was part– to conclude. So the question is, how can we
imagine archaeology of urgency, of crisis? How can we work with the
things and the spaces that crisis produces? To quote once again [INAUDIBLE],
“this is a research endeavor that treads on dangerous
and unsafe grounds as its object, the
crisis, has embodied much reality, which is witnessed
on the bodies of the citizens while it’s being wished
away as soon as possible. What knowledge become
possible under circumstances of crisis, especially
crisis that is itself the object of objections and
suspicion as to what exactly comprises it and what
exactly it constitutes?” I will only briefly
sketch a few ideas in trying to imagine
possible directions here. First, it seems that
in order to succeed in the time sensitive task
of documenting change, destruction,
displacement, when we need to enter the field with what
Michael Shanks has called forensic suspicion, that
within a crime scene, everything can be evidence. Second, it looks like this could
be a borderline archaeology– not just in geographic
terms, but also in terms of methodological
or disciplinary boundaries. Working on a mass mobility
and major transformation in urban environments,
for example, we have a lot to draw from
different fields and tools, including for example
media and archaeology. And at this point, I’d like to
mention Shannon Mattern, who has called– partly inspired
by the work of archaeologists like Chris Whitmore,
for not just the metaphorical but actual
archaeology of urban media, networks, and
infrastructures, showing a possible ground for
exploration between media archaeology and
archaeology proper. Technologies of mapping, remote
sensing, and data visualization could also open up
new possibilities, if matched with the
richness of field work. Now the problematic of an
archaeological research response to the
crisis has also been highlighted by other scholars. And I’d like to quickly
mention here [INAUDIBLE] who, in a recent blog post,
explored the possibility of an archaeology
of care as first discussed by Richard Roadhouse. I find the idea
of an archaeology of care and attention to
things and bodies in relation to a materially present
but silent other– I find that this idea encapsulates
both the need to respond to urgency and solidarity
with the suffering, as well as a deep commitment to
things and spaces themselves. Finally, I believe that an
archaeology of the crisis would almost inevitably have
to be an archaeology that is itself in crisis,
returning here to the ancient Greek etymology
of the word– crisis, but also critique. Being critical. An archaeology, in
other words, that could shake and challenge
its own temporal and disciplinary boundaries. A socially engaging and
critical archaeology could be a first
response to crisis. Perhaps a critical
archaeology of care. And I think I’m
going to stop here. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Well, thank you very much to all
three of our initial speakers. You really started us off
on a great note thinking about archaeological approaches
to crises across the globe, geopolitical and
others, of course– and as well as
disciplinary crises that we may be going
through ourselves as we conduct archaeological work. So we have about 15 minutes
for questions and comments. If you have anything directed
toward particular speakers, you’re welcome to
address each individual, or have general
comments for discussion. Chris? Well, thank you. Those were three
excellent papers. A great start. LouAnn, I want to
return to your paper. I admire your fearless speech. And we need more of it. The Greeks call this gracia. But the Greeks also have us
another term– archaeology. And that should remind us
that archaeology is not reducible to capitalism. Capitalism is a
mode of functioning. It’s a monster and it kind of
produces its own necessity. And at every conjunction,
it actually destroys those who don’t participate
or don’t enter into it and take up these
new opportunities. But archaeology is
not reducible to that. I would agree that
the whole paper, if you replaced archaeology
with capitalism. But it’s a community. It’s a whole set of
practices and relationships. And that resistance to say it’s
not reducible to capitalism is actually part of
resisting capitalism, which appropriates everything. And to say that a future
without archaeology has allowed capitalism to
appropriate that and say, well, there you go,
when in fact archaeology is much more than a discipline. So there’s my point. Peter? I have sort of a similar
critique as well. I think you made a lot
of very good points. But I think it was
very much one sided. And I’m thinking that
it’s rather ironic that the paper that followed
showed how archaeology does give voice to subaltern peoples,
and that however much embedded in a capitalist
society archaeology is, archaeology has, on many,
many occasions, challenged and discomforted, the
capitalist establishment. A couple of cases
that come to mind are the excavation of the New
York burial ground in Manhattan about 20 years ago or
the ongoing excavations of slave quarters at that
bastion of capitalism, Colonial Williamsburg. And finally, a final comment. I bet if you looked at the
Brown University course catalog, you could find courses
that are offered today that correspond almost
exactly the laundry list you gave of
courses from the IWW. The universities,
however much have been co-opted by and embedded
in the capitalist system, nevertheless are one
of the few places where other voices can be heard. And that goes for
archaeology as well. I know you’ll have
responses, but Liz, I know you had a comment. Well, I’ll let LouAnn respond. And then I’d like to take that
same conversation elsewhere, actually. Well, my response
is, of course– that I am an archaeologist. I consider myself one. And I think my research
raises all those questions. So I wasn’t intentionally
saying we don’t need archaeology and archaeology is useful. But what I was trying to do
is spotlight those structures that we work in and to
really think about what kind of difference we make. And a lot of what I
was talking about, there’s things
that I worry about. I teach those courses
year after year. And the constant student
body is even less and less critical with
each passing year. So there’s always been
that discussion of, oh, we can transform this
from in the Academy. And I’m not going to stop
doing my job and stop trying. But so a lot of
that paper wasn’t saying that we’re all useless
and just go do something else. But to really think, are
they alternate structures? Are we feeding into the
beast itself in some ways? And so of course, I worry
about your comments as well. I really think that
the way archaeologists work can shed light on, and
the other two paper show that. There’s real utility of it. So I wasn’t really saying
we shouldn’t do archaeology, but mainly thinking about
those disciplinary structures that guide our labor–
to think, are there other alternatives where we
can make other differences? You have your hand
up back there. Yeah, but Uzman. Yeah, sorry about Uzman. So I just wanted to
follow up with that. Because I do think that was
clear in your paper, actually. I think in the earlier, probably
in the first page or so, it sounded like you were
saying throughout archaeology. But I think as you
went through the paper, you situated it very clearly. And I do think that universities
are being taken over by a neoliberal agenda. I do think that this
is actually happening. And I do think capitalism is
the system that is perpetuating a certain kind of way of being. And one of the things
that I wanted to ask and maybe put out
there, because you are in company of individuals
who are theory-minded and who are thinking
about this and who are thinking about
resistance and revolution. It’s not actually that difficult
to join a free university. This is a very uniquely
American problem that we don’t have
free universities here. In Europe and other
parts of the world, I’m teaching at free
universities all the time. There is a way to
actually make that happen. And I would hope that
in the United States we would be able to consider
alternative ways of thinking and of teaching that aren’t
linked to a capitalist system. And it’s possible. And it’s actually
incredibly generative. And this is kind of
where I thought– I mean, it’s a
great first session, because it linked so
well to Laura’s work. So this idea of
moving out of– when you talk about public
intellectualism, moving out just archaeology. Work with performance artists. That moment that you’re going to
have in that space in the 21st is going to be amazingly
transformative and educational for a lot of people. And it’s outside of a certain
kind of capitalist system. Having said that, Ai Weiwei
is playing with capitalism. Those images of the
heated blankets and then having celebrities wear
those same heated blankets is actually the way
in which you critique that same capitalist system that
the art market is a part of. So just because we move
out of archaeology, we have to continue to be
critical and cognizant of how other disciplines are also
being co-opted by capitalism. And there was no question there. But just that I really
enjoyed the papers. Udo? Yeah, I guess I think you
didn’t go far enough, LouAnn. [LAUGHTER] And being one of the
very few non-white people in the room actually I
think shows that point. I don’t think anything is
reducible to capitalism, not even capital. And I think where you
don’t go far enough is how capitalist we
are, and how much it is part of our own critique. Capitalism survives
because we critique it. If we stop criticizing
it, it would go away. It’s like the person
we love, right? They’re actually there
because we hate them. If we were indifferent to
them, they would go away. So the real issue is how does–
it’s not even how it does. It’s how we’re
constituted by capitalism, how this is an inherent part
of who we are, what we do, and what we see. And so it’s illusory. It’s a fantasy to think
that we can step out. And that’s why I think Weiwei’s
approaches is so provocatively interesting. Because he’s not trying
to step out of that, but actually confront
us with that mirror. And that mirror’s
self reflection is us. And I like the two
papers, not because I think they were successful. I think they are
very good failures. And I think that’s what we
need, to accept those failures. The failure of diversity of
this conference, for example. It’s important to
recognize that. And I think that failure
is really wonderful because it also allows
us to say we’re human. And that, in certain situations,
like the migration crisis right now, we don’t have a solution. Maybe silence is
necessary sometimes. Maybe we just need to step
and say, this is a conundrum. And why should we succeed where
a century of our discipline has not. It’s also respect to
our ancestors in a way. And there’s a question
there somewhere, I’m sure. Yeah, I really need
a copy of that paper. There’s lots in there. And as someone feeling
just like I got off the plane from Orlando,
which– I mean, that paper needed to be
presented at Orlando. What a disaster. That conference was a disaster. And it was a disaster
in part because we were in the heart of capitalism. But what I was thinking
about was speed. So you mentioned sort
of tenure and the issues that those of us going up for
tenure– fingers crossed over here– is the issue that
we’re on a rat-race. And the SAEs are a
great example of this. And there’s that whole slow
science movement out there, particularly in Europe. And it strikes me
that, on the one hand, the kinds of discussions
we heard this morning were about slowing down and
contemplating and reflecting. And yet I’m also struck
by this last talk, which is all about
you cannot slow down. I’m new to this world of
archaeology, the contemporary. This stuff happened quickly. We’ve got to get in there
quickly and enact it. And so for me,
again, as someone who thinks a lot about temporality,
often in the deeper past, it strikes me that we have
a temporal tension here, which is the need to slow down
as a critique of capitalism, but also the need to keep up
to properly be able to do that. I wanted to also talk about
LouAnn’s paper briefly, with the suggestion
that archaeologists have been able to adapt to
the neoliberalist capitalism that the university is
trying to impose upon them. I find in my own instance
that this has not happened for the
majority of my colleagues and they’re guilty of
operating under the old model and trying to do and
teach and publish about archaeology in
a way that doesn’t suit the present at all. And so [INAUDIBLE] talk
comes in very well there, because they’re
not acknowledging the archaeology in
and of the present, and they’re also structuring
the academic program to ensure that no one’s going
to get deep participatory in the capitalist system. So they’re being
strangely subversive, but unwillingly and
unwittingly, I think. Because they
haven’t come forward and acknowledged the new model
of capitalism that exists. And I wonder–
I’ve been thinking a lot about–
obviously, I’ve been thinking a lot about these
things to write the paper. But I’ve been thinking
a lot about how these transformations impact
different institutions in different ways. My whole experience is
with state institutions, both as a graduate student and
the places that I’ve taught. And I suspect that some of
those state institutions are feeling more
pressure to conform to those new constraints than
maybe other institutions that have different standards
of prestige or whatever. I don’t mean to imply
anything snooty or anything. But that impacts us differently. And so some of us
perhaps can ignore those structures in our everyday
work life more than others. I guess that’s what
I’m thinking about. And Krista’s nodding, so
perhaps you’re feeling it, too. Definitely. But it’s increasingly becoming,
in my experiences, well, do we even need archaeology? Anthropology, what does that do? And I wanted to tie-in–
oh, what was his– the governor of Florida’s– Rick Scott. Rick Scott’s quote
that everybody was– we don’t need more anthropologists. And I think rather than,
oh, you don’t understand what anthropology
is about, I mean, I think that’s a real
objective statement about the role of anthropology
in the new neoliberal world that we need to take seriously,
rather than, oh, you’re just ignored ignorant. I agree that contract work
sometimes is done really just to support a particular
developer or capitalist effort. But often you’re
basically compromised. You want to do the research, and
the only way to do the research is to take the devil’s money. So sometimes you
have to do that. And sometimes you think you’re
on the side of the angels so they switch it. You do the work. We just did a big
study for Boston chain for work, for a
hotel developer, who really seemed intent on
leaving almost all of it intact and using all sorts of
interpretive devices that we’d suggested. Now I’m not
convinced that report did any more than just
check off what he had to do in order to do the hotel. But on the other hand,
some of the best examples I can think of are from
your university– one of the few places where
environmental studies is closely linked to archaeology. Most places it’s not
very closely linked. Certainly not here. But at Michigan tech, you take
somebody like Fred Quivik. Fred Quivik is a
thorn in the side of more capitalist
institutions than anybody I can think of, because
he’s a noted legal expert. What he does is
do the archaeology and then go into court
as an expert witness. And he’s really been certifying
the title expert witness for an archaeologists
or a historian. And the work that’s done on
Superfund sites for us that’s well-trained for the
future landscape. So I think your
institution actually does a better job than most. We’re running out of time. But I do– I don’t want to
put anybody on the spot– but after, given
LouAnn’s paper, we have a number of
graduate students here. So I was wondering if there
would be a graduate student– oh, Alex. I’m interested In getting
back to that comment, kind of the neoliberal
position that we don’t need more anthropologists. Isn’t that kind of an argument
to continue producing PhDs? Should we be producing
more PhDs than we need to fill teaching
positions as a way to kind of spread archaeological
thought beyond the institution? Like that could be one of
our mechanisms for entering archaeology into the– You know, what’s a great
comment and a great question. And of course, my
answer is there should be way more
anthropologists in every position, in
every level of government. But the reality is that’s
not going to happen. So to be training
more archaeologists because we would like to
see more subversive action is probably going to lead
to a lot of very hungry, disgruntled people. So I certainly appreciate that. You can imagine that if there
were more anthropologists in all positions,
then maybe we would be seeing those
neoliberal transformations in the same way. Chris? I think it was a brilliant
talk, what you presented, because see what happened? It got us going and thinking. [LAUGHTER] No, it was very well. I just wanted to add,
somebody mentioned the European perspective. And I think one aspect I would
like to add to this debate is that I think we need to
ask what kind of capitalism. Of course, Europe
is also capitalist. It’s not that. But it’s more regulated. Its controlled in
a different way. And it has a lot of
problems, of course. But it also creates potential. And that’s the point
I want to make. Because we’ve started a research
school with external funding, nearly completely. At this comes from
a capitalist source. It’s a major
foundation in Sweden, to support the competitiveness
of Swedish industry. And we got a research school
in archaeology out of that. And its co-founded from
contract archaeology, not– oh, this system doesn’t
work like CRM in this country– because of the regulations. And the company’s we’re working
with in this big foundation, what they’re aiming
at is to increase the market for
archaeology in society. And that means all
the research projects are about the impact
of archaeology in society, potential impact–
how to make a difference. And one of the things
we’re dealing with is just immigration issues. How can we develop
services for society that make use of the
skills and potential that the immigrants bring
to Sweden right now? And there’s just no
knowledge about that. And especially a number of
archaeology or the humanities can do with that. So this is something where we’re
discussing in that context. So here’s a development
that I think is for the good of society in
maybe some ways that you’re also hoping to see. But that comes out of
the capitalist system. We wouldn’t have
had this research without the capitalist
system, without this fund, without the companies
co-founding it. So I think it’s more complex. And it does depend on
the local circumstances. And there is hope even
in a capitalist system. That doesn’t justify it. But it means it needs to
be– it’s more complex. I know. You’re absolutely right. And so to play devil’s
advocate, these are the things I worry about. So that acts on money. Where did that come from? And the fact that
you can do that, how did that impact
other people’s lives? And so again, I
don’t know, and this is where I’m increasingly
getting really worried that we can have happy capitalism. Because it’s occurring on
this global scale in the sense that it benefits for us. I mean, I’m an archaeologist. I love archaeology. I don’t want to stop
doing what I do. But I worry that my
ability to do this has real implications on
the ability of other people to live the kind of life
that I think they should. And that’s what I worry about. And I’ve been thinking a lot
about the European model. I’ve been working on starting a
project on Finnish immigration in Northern Michigan. And I’m really interested
in labor radicalism. What is it about the
Finnish experience that made them some of
the most radical labor in American history. And so thinking about Finnish,
radical labor, education, is sort of where
this paper came from. And you look at globally
the Finnish education model, it’s world renowned as
one of the best models for neoliberal education. And so there’s all kinds
of– I would rather have a world with
those kind of models that are not the neoliberal
capitalism the way we know it in the states. But I don’t think we
should fool ourselves that that’s the best
of all possible worlds. How about that? [LAUGHTER] I know this conversations can
go on for the next two days, if we wanted to. But for now, we’re going
to have 15 minutes of break and we’re going to reconvene
at 11:00 for our next session. So please, one
more time, help me in thanking our first speakers. [APPLAUSE]

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