Australian Archaeology Association Conference 2009

September to December is typically the ‘conference season’ in Australia and is when most major archaeology conferences are scheduled. The largest of these is the Australian Archaeology Association’s annual conference which this year is being held in Adelaide, South Australia in early December. The keynote speaker is Professor Geoff Bailey (University of York) and the conference seems to have a good selection of sessions on offer. The conference theme is ‘Old Guard, New Guard’ and this from the conference website:

The last decade has seen major changes in the environment of Australian archaeology. The mining boom has created new job markets, with new requirements for education and training in archaeology. In several states, new heritage legislation has been introduced, and more heritage Acts are currently under review. Australian archaeology and archaeologists have gained a wider global audience in the wake of controversies such as those over the Flores hominids and rock art management on the Burrup peninsula, and global issues such as climate change have permeated academic and public discourses about the past.¬† At the same time, academic baby boomers have been approaching retirement, leading to predictions of a shortfall of experienced people in the tertiary education sector, as well as a general change in the complexion of professional archaeology. In the 2009 AAA Conference “Old Guard, New Guard”, we ask participants to consider what will be the major directions for archaeology as we head into the second decade of the 21st century. How will new generations of archaeologists build on – or deconstruct – the research and practice of the past 50 years?

Proposed sessions include:

  • Archaeology to excite and inspire (Duncan Wright and Alice Gorman);
  • Research outcomes in Australian Archaeology (Sandra Bowdler);
  • Engineering archaeological solutions: how technological advancements have been implmented in cultural heritage management (Faye Prideaux);
  • Seeing beneath the soil: the possibilities of archaeological geophysics in Australia (Ian Moffat);
  • Archaeology and anthropology (Fiona Sutherland and Neale Draper);
  • The real dirt game: archaeology and mining in the Pilbara (Boon Law and Dawn Cropper);
  • The archaeology of Australasian coasts and islands (Duncan Wright and Michael Morrison);
  • “Old problems new shit” or “Old paradigms, new applications: the application of cultural heritage legislation in modern cultural heritage situations (Annie Ross);
  • Google earth, open source and other emerging spatial technologies: innovation and application in archaeology (Illya Santos and Stafford Smith);
  • Engaged archaeology, consultancies and management planning: research directions (Steve Hemming, Chris Wilson and Kelly Wiltshire);
  • Palaeoecology and its role in archaeology: current research and future directions (Jillian Garvey and Judith Field);
  • Valued stones: understanding the manufacture, use and distribution of transported stone artefacts (Clair Harris and Chris Clarkson).

There are a couple of sessions I am particularly looking forward to. The first will be Sandra Bowdler’s session on research outcomes in Australian archaeology, which hopefully will include some good thematic papers on key research issues being addressed by people working in Australia. I was also interested to see the proposed session exploring the application of ‘Google earth, open source and other emerging spatial technologies’ to archaeology in Australia. It is not something I can remember seeing before at a AAA conference and so I hope it garners enough support to run.

In recent years I have co-convened several sessions on topics not strictly within my primary area of research and so this year decided that¬† it would be good to do something on coastal archaeology. After a few chats with Duncan Wright (Monash University) we decided to propose a session entitled ‘The archaeology of Australasia’s coastlines and islands’. It looks as if we have eight confirmed papers and I shall post details once the organising committee finalise the program. In the meantime, our abstract is:

The archaeology of Australasia’s coastlines and islands has been an important focus for archaeologists carrying out research in the region, particularly since the pursuit was recognised as a distinct sub-field of research in the early 1980s (Bowdler 1982; Hall and McNiven 1999). Since then, there has been a relative efflorescence of research into the circumstances and character of human settlement and use of coastal and island regions. This session hopes to showcase the diverse range of research being undertaken in such contexts throughout Australasia. Speakers may wish to address the following broad themes within coastal or island settings:

  • The role of islands and coastlines, liminal zones and the sea for both communities and archaeologists;
  • Colonisation and settlement;
  • Economies and subsistence;
  • Rock art research;
  • Methodological and technical issues;
  • The question of mid- to late Holocene economic, social and technological change;
  • Approaches to managing cultural heritage in coastal settings;
  • Human-environment interactions;
  • The archaeology of cross-cultural contact and interaction in coastal settings.

AAA is always good fun and a great chance to catch up with colleagues and old friends. I’ll post more about the final program once it is finalised, which should hopefully be in the next week or so.

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