Call for papers: TAG 2014 Debate on the Instrumentalisation of Archaeology
Welcome to the TAG 2014 debate on the instrumentalisation of archaeology! This year the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference will be hosted by the University of Manchester between 15 and 17 December 2014. Starting with the motion ‘This House believes that archaeology should NOT be instrumentalised’ we anticipate a lively debate! This session takes the form of a House debate focusing on the instrumentalisation of archaeology, which has always been an aspect of the discipline but that has grown apace in recent years with the popularity of Public Archaeology, Community Archaeology and archaeologies with a ‘social purpose’ at their core. There is much to extol in archaeological projects and practices that benefit communities and individuals in the present, as will be demonstrated in this session by those who position themselves in favour of the instrumentalisation of archaeology. Nevertheless, caution is required in ostensibly subjugating archaeology to political, economic, social and even psychological ends. Contributors arguing that archaeology should NOT be instrumentalised will take to task the role of archaeologist-as-social-worker and the potentially deleterious effects of aligning archaeological enquiry with political agendas (aka, archaeology-as-agitprop). In so doing, questions will be raised concerning the ethics of archaeologies that are primarily driven by national socioeconomic agendas and the institutional policies of funding bodies. Should archaeology be independent of these agendas? Or is an archaeology that is more integrated into societal issues and engages with contemporary discourses a more relevant one? Ultimately, the debate over instrumentalisation has at its core what we as archaeologists believe is the role of our discipline in the contemporary world and how this might change in the future. Deliberately provocative, the purpose of this session is not to dismiss or discredit social-purpose archaeologies but rather to encourage critical appraisal of the parameters of praxis. Contributors are invited to present ‘For’ or ‘Against’ the House in order to progress debate in an open, inclusive and mutually respectful arena. Please be aware, speakers need not feel constrained to present a personal position: devil’s advocates most welcome! In addition to formal papers active participation will be sought from the floor and delegates are encouraged to come prepared with ‘points of information’. The session will be live tweeted #instruarch and proceedings of the session will be published; to this end, discussion is under way with the editors of the Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage. Confirmed contributors: John Carman, University of Birmingham Gerry Wait, Nexus Archaeology Sarah May, Heritage for Transformation Kenneth Aitchison, Landward Research Ltd Paul Belford, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (Discussant)
Expressions of interest should be directed to the session organisers by Friday 10th October with confirmed paper titles and abstracts will be required by 31st October.