Objects and Images, Visual Ethics, et al.

I’m off to the field in a couple of weeks and will be free (or deprived, depending on your point of view) of extended use of the internet for much of August.  For that reason, I’ll make a couple of posts in relatively quick succession, summing up what’s been happening lately.  First, Katherine Leckie and I have finalised our session at the European Association of Archaeologists conference in September, and we’re really very excited about the interest that it’s generated, and hence the breadth of contributions.  If you happen to be in The Hague, near the Royal Conservatoire on Friday, 3 Sept, from 9.00-12.30, come see us.  We’ve built in plenty of time for discussion over the course of the morning — here’s a note of the topics and people that you can expect to guide the dialogue:

Objects and images in the history of archaeology

9.00-9.10, Introduction
Katherine Leckie, University of Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM

9.10-9.25, The visual grammar of ruins: between ‘discovery’ and ‘un-concealment’
Fares Moussa, University of Edinburgh, UNITED KINGDOM

9.25-9.40, The eBusingatha Puzzle: a digital restoration of a painted rock shelter
Justine Wintjes, University of the Witwatersrand, SOUTH AFRICA

9.40-9.55, The Logic of Archaeological Science – Some Remarks on Objects and Images and their rule in early concepts of Archaeological Time
Undine Stabrey, University of Paris I/ Bern, SWITZERLAND

9.55-10.10, The historiography of bracteates and the animal style and its impact on current archaeological studies in Scandinavia
Nancy Wicker, University of Mississippi, UNITED STATES

10.10-10.25, Objects and images: Sir John Beazley’s potters and painters
Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia, UNITED STATES

10.25-10.40, Discussion

11.10-11.25, Dr. Bawtree’s Collection: Images and Objects from Indian Sepulchral Pits
Catherine Sutton, York University, CANADA

11.25-11.40, A Museum on Paper
Heather Sebire, English Heritage, UNITED KINGDOM

11.40-11.55, Exploiting the visual: Graphic media and academic archaeology in mid-20th century London
Sara Perry, Southampton University, UNITED KINGDOM

11.55-12.10, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?” and its Effect on British Archaeology in the 1950s
Pamela Jane Smith, Mcdonald Institute for Archaeological Research, UNITED KINGDOM

12.10-12.30, Discussion

In other good news, Jonathan Marion and I have learned that the article we’ve prepared on visual ethics (see my discussion of the matter here) has been accepted for publication in Visual Anthropology Review.  We’ve got a couple of additions to make before final submission of the paper (due for print in the fall 2010 issue), but we’re keen to see our efforts on the annual visual ethics roundtables at the American Anthropological Association meetings get translated into print.  We’re always interested to learn how others are grappling with such ethical issues, so please do connect with us about recent and related work.

Lastly, as is evident from the content of my blog, I use this forum to comment on my studies and interests, and describe my various activities, but not to emulate the critically-incisive and methodologically-rich blogging archives of other archaeologists and anthropologists.  Among my favourites are Quentin Mackie @ Northwest Coast Archaeology, and Colleen Morgan @ Middle Savagery, both of whom have been recognised by Archaeology Magazine as top bloggers in the field.  Check them out!

European Association of Archaeologists conference, 2010

Katherine Cooper-Leckie of the University of Cambridge and I just got fabulous news that our session proposal has been accepted for the upcoming European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) conference in The Hague, Netherlands, 1-5 September 2010.  The call for papers is now open, and I’ve posted our abstract below:

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?

Under the banner of the Visualisation in Archaeology project, Garry Gibbons and Rob Read are also hosting a roundtable on “Visualising Archaeology: Towards a European Perspective on Skills Requirements and Provision” at the EAA meeting, so it looks like it’s going to be an exciting conference!