Last Call: Objects & Images, The Hague 2010

Katherine Leckie and I have just learned that the EAA has extended its deadline for abstract submissions for its 2010 conference in The Hague, Netherlands, 1-5 September 2010.  Paper proposals are now due by 23 May via the EAA’s online system.  As I mentioned before, we’re very excited to be hosting a session at the EAAs on visualisation and materialisation in the history of the archaeological discipline.  Our session currently includes archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists and museum specialists, and we still have a couple of extra spaces for others (from any field!) who would be interested to contribute.

Objects and images in the history of archaeology

Research into the history of archaeology is often an offshoot of the discipline, tucked into the sidelines of everyday practice. As a result, our method and theory can often seem overly presentist, reveling in the apparent novelty of current-day approaches. Arguably, this presentism is especially obvious in visual and object-oriented enquiry in archaeology, whose currency nowadays might imply that such concerns with materiality are a recent addition to the field. However, even the briefest look at the history of the discipline testifies to the longstanding embroilment of visualisation and materialisation in archaeology’s evolution. What is important is that there are a range of innovative approaches now in use (by historically-minded archaeologists and others) which aim to untangle these relationships, illuminating the place of images and objects in the discipline’s intellectual and material development.

This session aims to begin laying out the case for a rich and deep history of visual and material operation in the archaeological field. We endeavour to demonstrate not only that visualisation and materialisation have been
entangled in archaeology from its most embryonic moments, but that this history continues to impact on current practice. The papers in this session seek to examine these entanglements, drawing parallels between different artefact types and their roles in the development of the discipline. We aim to highlight various methodologies, from museum collections analysis to graphic study to historic archival research. Themes that we look to explore include visualisation, the creation of artefacts, and the circulation and categorisation of objects–our aim being to address such questions as:
– What role do objects and images play in archaeology and its historical development?
– How have collecting and exhibiting practices enabled the formalisation of the discipline?
– How is archaeological knowledge made through material and visual culture?

Anyone who is interested may also be keen to participate in HARN (Histories of Archaeology Research Network), upon whose Executive Committee both Katherine and I sit.  HARN meets a couple of times per year in the UK, but has a growing membership from around the world, as well as an active mailing list.  The topic of our EAA session has figured into many conversations and presentations at HARN meetings, and we’re eager to hear from others with similar interests.