Dear members, dear colleagues, dear friends
Dear Dutch authorities with whom I have the pride to share this ceremony: Susan Lammers, General Director of the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands, Hans Teunissen, Regional Minister of the Province of Limburg, Gert-Jan Krabbendam, Executive Councillor of Municipality of Maastricht.
Welcome everybody to Maastricht, the 23rd Annual Meeting of EAA. My welcome is extended to all those attending and to those who cannot attend. Here, I would include a special greeting to Margaret Gowen, our dear treasurer, who could not come and be with us because of some last minute health problems but luckily she is recovering now.
Conscious of the great work of the local organizers, the Scientific Committee and other EAA Committees, we look forward to another very successful meeting. We also send greetings to those, and there are many, who are here representing other associations and entities, from WAC and SAA to Europa Nostra, EAC, SAfA, DGUF and CIfA, and many others. I also like to include the persons representing our Corporate Members, who have been crucial supporters of the EAA since many years ago.
Maastricht 2017 is, for sure, a very relevant meeting for our organization. Let me quickly explain why.
It is a big pleasure to be here because being in this place and time is deeply meaningful. In a sense it is the place where most of what made us, began. I am referring to the Treaty on European Union, signed here in Maastricht 25 years ago. And I am also referring to the Valetta Convention, signed also 25 years ago and in which our beloved WW took a major role. Willem was had the original initiative to bring the AM to Maastricht, the capital of his birth region, the Province of Limburg.
The creation of EAA is closely related to both events. It was part of the optimistic impulse to build up a new idea of European cooperation, and also of the new model of archaeological heritage management that arose from the Malta Convention and promoted a rapid and incredible growth of the archaeological profession.
However, celebration of both events cannot be without some critical remarks.
The European Union has not been the panacea we hoped for. Nowadays, Europe closes its borders, is not able to respond to the demands of its regions, finds itself distanced from its politicians who in many cases do not represent the wishes of the people, and is unclear how the European project can better solve the problems of all of us, women and men.
Archaeological resource management has also not been the panacea we believed. Today many colleagues, men and women, middle aged and young colleagues, face precarious, unstable, devalued, underpaid, temporary jobs, harassed by high mobility. Even if Archaeology is still playing a substantial role in territorial planning, tourism and in other domains, the social relevance of Archaeology, its intellectual effect, is minimal compared with what could be.
You all know what has happened. At some point the European project and archaeological management were taken away by technical reason, by the technocracy. Emphasis was placed on pure management. And we forgot to talk about what really matters to us all: values, ideas, dreams. Technocratic management says it will help to simplify life. But it forgets to say what life, what for, and how growth will integrate more people into a world that is more fair with greater solidarity.
This is especially important for us as archaeologists because Archaeology deals with values, produces values; because from our work we can create narratives about identity, memory, tradition, narratives that connect with the people, that encompass people, things, territories and ideas.
My dear colleagues, we are here for our Annual Meeting, to exchange our experiences and knowledge. Let's do it with the conviction that we can talk here not only about our own issues, that we can talk about everyone's issues and do it for the welfare of the majority. Let build bridges together, knowing that these bridges are not only into the past but across the present and towards the future. They are bridges that must lead us to do many other new things beyond the standards that have shaped Archaeology in the XX Century.
In order not to give room to 25 years of nostalgia, we must think about what new things are happening, what organizations and initiatives are emerging which in 25 years will be celebrated as a sign of the times. I dream of that some of them will be conceived and cradled in our work.
Coming to concrete points, the 2017 annual meeting will be an important event for EAA and its members. Maastricht is the point at which EAA has to decide about the major development that your Executive Board is proposing to serve all of you better, both internally and in relation to the political challenges we are facing.
The documents that develop our strategic planning have been distributed to members. We urge all members to engage with it and the future direction of EAA’s growth. We aim for much improved membership engagement, membership participation and membership services.
Our final aim must be to place EAA and European Archaeology at the forefront of current contribution to social and cultural debate and to society, for the benefit of our members and those communities we serve. In this very sense, this morning we had the Round Table on EAA Political Strategies with regard to the 2019 European Elections. We also joined a very effective working meeting with presidents of other archaeological and heritage organizations that was devoted to this same topic.
Remember, things will not change. Things do not change by themselves. Things compel us: they require our absence to be kept as they are; and they require our presence to become a new thing.
To end now, I must do still two things.
Firstly, as we started doing in Vilnius, I wish you all together to stand up and keep a minute of silence for those fellow members who have passed away this year: Geoffrey Wainwright (1937-2017) was highly relevant for the EAA and a model for our discipline. PLEASE, STAND UP.
And finally, we must thank the Dutch entities and authorities that provide substantial support to our meeting: the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands, the Province of Limburg, and the Municipality of Maastricht. Particularly, the emphasis by the Province on opening as much of the AM as possible to the general public, led us to organize new parallel events such as the “materiality of the invisible” exhibition that opened yesterday, organized by the Jan Van Eyck Academie and funded by the NEARCH project. I particularly send greetings to those of you here who have come to this ceremony because of this will of doing Archaeology beyond Archaeology. I must also thank your interest in our activity: external interest makes us better.
We also must recognize the scientific and organizing committee for all the hard work they did for us: thanks to Jos Bazelmans as chair of the Scientific Committee, Gilbert Soeters, Cees van Rooijen, Karianne Winthagen, Barbara Dobbelmann, Joke Zaat, José Luis Morales Belmar and the Klinkhamer Group.
Let me finish by saying DANK JE, Thank you so much to those who did your best to bring us together here to build bridges. We´ll see what next day brings. But we are here now because the bridge you have built from and for our vision.
(Felipe Criado-Boado, EAA President, on the behalf of EAA Executive Board and Committees)