by Felipe Criado-Boado, EAA President, on the behalf of EAA Executive Board, Committees and Communities (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is the full version of my speech in the Opening Ceremony of Barcelona Annual Meeting September 5, 2018. I am reproducing it here because it is the best summary of the most important recent developments on the EAA and also a good text to launch the 25th Anniversary of the EAA that we will celebrate in 2019. When being next year in Bern (Switzerland) EAA will be just 25 years old.
Dear members, dear colleagues, dear friends, welcome everybody to Barcelona, the 24th AM of the EAA. Benvinguts, bienvenidos. My welcome words this year will be a bit special. I will tell later why they are special.
Details about the AM and thanks
We must start by remembering those colleagues and friends who have passed away this year. The joy of gathering once again this year is mixed with sadness because we have missed some treasured members. I mention Vito Polcaro, Asle Olsen, Ericka Engelstad, Johanna Stöger (former Editorial Board member), and Henry Cleere. All of them were commemorated in our webpage. Henry will be remembered as one of the founding members of the EAA and one of those that worked tirelessly during the early years and later development of the EAA – from 1994 to 2018. In our hearts and minds, we carry Henry and those others that we have missed who were so instrumental in crafting the unique collegial character of EAA especially in the lead into our 25th anniversary year.
The last 24 years have led us here, to Barcelona. The best tribute we can now pay to Henry and our other deceased colleagues is the popularity and size of this gathering; we are here 2987 participants this year. The figures for this Barcelona AM are really extraordinary. 259 sessions, 3004 presentations plus 175 posters, 2987 registered attendees. EAA altogether is now 3429 members.
This figure is all the more significant because you have all come here in spite of all the news and uncertainty during the year about Barcelona and Catalunya. When many other were staying away, we all decided to come. This says a lot about EAA. It says a lot about the quality of the organisation here.
It is my pleasure therefore to take the opportunity here to thank all the organisations that have cooperated and sponsored this AM, moltes gràcies. They have been represented here by our previous speakers: the Catalan Autonomous Government, represented by its Minister of Culture, Laura Borrás; the Barcelona City Council, represented by the its Commissioner for Culture, Joan Subirats; the University of Barcelona, represented by its Chancellor, Joan Elías; the People´s Cathedral of Santa María del Mar, represented by its dean David Abadías.
Being here, in this wonderful venue of Santa María del Mar, makes a lot of sense. It was known since Medieval times as the “cathedral of the People”, the counterpart of the formal bourgeoisie cathedral of the Barcelona. This says something about the feeling of being here, because it reminds us of what iglesia in Spanish, ecclesia in Latin, ekklesia in Greek, in fact means: it means assembly of people. Where we are is actually what we are, a “thing/ting” in Old English and Nordic (with echoes to our archaeological practice, an etymology that should be taken into account for those who speak about the Ontological Turn, and those who understand Archaeology as the discipline of the Things), i.e. an assembly of people, who gather for its annual meeting to reflect about our future through our pasts.
Being so many this year, also says a lot about the excellent job done by our local host organization, our principle organizer Marga Díaz-Andreu together with Sandra Montón and Raquel Piqué. We warmly thank them for the tremendous job they have done side by side with the supporting organization provided by Antoni Nicolau, María José Gallego and Mónica Mackay.
Finally, it validates the newly developed model of EAA AM organisation. This is the first meeting where the EAA and our Secretariat have taken a central role. It has been a challenge and has involved enormous effort. The preliminary results, however, are promising. You cannot easily imagine the breath and scale of the professional development that our Secretariat has undergone, while always maintaining their personal friendliness and always helpful service to members. But I am sure that you all have a clear idea that the soul of the EAA is embodied in our Secretariat and is carried forward by our Secretariat staff.
In the end, you will be the judges of the final result. You may bear in mind that we have had to craft clear financial priorities in order to get the best from your registration fee income and from the donations of our sponsors. We have been very austere trying to do more with less. We are delighted that the quality of the academic program is so high and looks amazing. With a lot of effort and a reasonable budget we have managed to put together a complex and highly diverse AM. It is indeed huge and, for some, it may be too complex with too many sessions at the same time. But EAA seeks to be inclusive and this means that we have sought to cater for the requirements of our growing and diverse membership. Let me say that this is perhaps a price we must pay for inclusivity - and for being a dynamic and plural organisation where nobody with basic quality is left over, where we all have chances to meet and learn from each other’s very distinct experiences.
New developments – things to foster and keep for the future
There is a lot going on in the next days, and some of the events are new. We have adopted a safer space policy for the first time that we will keep for the future. We will give zero-tolerance to any case of personal exclusion or aggression with special attention to gender and sexual harassment. We ask you please, if anything of this kind happens, to refer the matter to anyone in the organisation. If necessary, even come to me.
Press coverage will be pretty big. A team from Spanish TV will be here throughout the AM, recording material for the production of a set of nine documentary films. A social media strategy has been devised that will also promote digital interaction and visibility (report included in this TEA issue). We have an open Photo call and you all are invited to share your photos there.
For the first time, the AM exhibition is organised as The European Archaeology Fair (EAF). This year it brings 41 exhibitors. I take this occasion to urge you all to consider using the fair as a platform to present your projects/work/research/teaching and business to your colleagues and the public. We hope the EAF will also be a focus for networking and social and intellectual interaction, not only for commercial and private business. The EAA Board is considering discounts to stable members of the EAA since the “Fair” is also an important service that EAA builds for our members.
As part of our desire to ensure public engagement and Citizen Science, as last year in the memorable Maastricht meeting, a full program of community and social activities has been scheduled for this year’s AM, under the title Arqueologia al carrer, archaeology in the street. Thanks must be given go Isidre Pastor and Laura Coltofean for their contribution to these activities.
This year is, of course, the European Year of Cultural Heritage. We will adopt a statement about the European Year of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.
We are very happy to welcome a special delegation of the World Bank. The delegation has come to present their new guidelines for cultural and social risk assessment in relation to development funded by the World Bank investment.
We will also hold a President's Forum, as we did in Vilnius. These open sessions offer opportunity for reflection on urgent matters, At Vilnius it was the potential impact of the Brexit referendum. This year it will be devoted to International Cooperation in Archaeology and Heritage and the World Bank’s Engagement in Cultural Heritage Management.
This year we will sign Memorandums of Understanding with CAA and DGUF, to foster special cooperation as we already do with, WAC, SAA, CIfA, SAfA.
We will celebrate a meeting with our Corporate Members and welcome the Prehistoric Society, the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology in Kiel, and Salisbury Archaeology as our new corporate members. I am happy to take this occasion to acknowledge their crucial support of the EAA over the years, and I aim to ensure that we promote their engagement in the life of the EAA.
We thank the private Foundation PALARQ for the generous donation they have given to us this year that we have used to support young members of EAA. In 2018 under their private patronage they are launching the National Archaeology and Paleontology Award rewarding the best Spanish project and team; the call for the prize is starting on September 10th and the final decision will be taken by an international Jury in November https://fundacionpalarq.com/premio/).
On Wednesday Sept 5, we held the working lunch with presidents and representatives of the 21 archaeological associations present in here, perhaps representing between all of them about 17,000 individual members; this year we focused on “the new skills we need” and the discussion was good; the output from this meeting is published in this issue of TEA.
Also this morning we held a special meeting of representatives of all the EAA Communities and Committees with the aim of promoting their activity and presence in the EAA life; this will be a special task for the Executive Board in the year ahead.
Next year, your Executive Board, EAA officers, EAA staff and I will implement new initiatives that reflect the strategic development in our organisation and place these within the EAA Statutes and Handbooks.
It will be a lot of work. The past three years have also been characterized by a lot of developmental work. But no work is sufficient to respond to enormous and continuing impetus that the EAA has. This is a very special organisation. You all make it special.
Ten months ago (November 2017), when Spain, Catalunya and Europe were worried about events here, in Barcelona, when many companies left the city and important international congresses considered the possibility of cancelling, our membership showed their trust, support and interest in our Annual Meetings and reacted by offering the highest level of participation in the history of the EAA. This response from our members fills us all with great pride in the EAA: it says something about the type of organisation we are, the type of values we endorse, and the type of work we do, even when these may have different meanings for each of us.
The multivocal soul of the EAA
But now I come to the most special part of my speech. I will tell you in a while why is special and I am sure you will appreciate.
“Spending time and energy on archaeology may seem hopeless in present day Europe, torn by exit and Brexit, refugee flows, and alternative facts. However, the very same issues make this work more important than ever because Archaeology is all about our collective past, present and future. Dealing with archaeology can be a way to bring marginalized groups into history, and the EAA has a key role in this process. We should especially focus on equality and diversity in archaeology and particularly within the EAA. …
We have to enable a greater integration of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Classics communities at the EAA and in AMs, which are still underrepresented. We must also advocate for an increased engagement of the EAA in climate and global change. These issues are deeply connected with questions of social justice, equality and cultural integrity in its broadest sense. These are the values we must promote. …
We must increase the participation of graduate students and early career researchers in the EAA. In addition, we must work for connecting South and North, West and East (including the Near East, Gulf region, Africa and Asia), and different traditions and generations of archaeologists. It is now more important than ever to maintain European cooperation and strengthen transnational networks in times of Brexit, new borders, nationalist, exclusivist isolationism and rising fascism. The EAA is an ideal platform to promote cooperation, shared values and knowledge within Europe and beyond. …
The current European context requires associations like ours that are ready to reaffirm perspectives of transnational (and trans-European) collaboration. In this historical moment there is a need to create alliances and seek collaboration widely. Otherwise, our discipline will be condemned to irrelevance. …
EAA is a valuable asset in the archaeological and heritage arenas. There are several reasons for this: one is that our membership base is impressive. EAA is a place where we all come together as equals. …
The EAA needs people who come prepared to work, but it also requires and environment that ensures that all members can participate fully in the life of the association. Thus, we must give voice to the objectivity and merit-based decisions for the good future of the EAA and to ensure the equality and transparency for the trust of our members. …
Good ideas and intentions are not the only factors that determine results. People and their efforts do. "Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible" (Francis of Assisi)". It is an honour for me to be a part of this great endeavour.”
What makes these words special is that they are not my words. I only made them mine. These words are caught from all the election statements of this year nine candidates to the different positions we are voting. Better than anything else, they speak about the shared soul of the EAA. To merge them is true multivocality. I am not referring here to multivocality as a liberal version of political correctness: multivocality is not to hear multiple voices speaking to us. This is just democracy. Multivocality is different voices speaking us. It is not only a matter of hearing but mainly a matter of being spoken. Truly, our culture needs to overcome a reluctant paradigm of strong individuality that is being reinforced by the extreme competition that more and more become nowadays customary in science and professional careers. Speaking other voices really helps to create a wider shared field for action.
EAA getting 25
In a year from now, EAA will be 25 years old. From this very instant, the Executive Board calls all of you to use this opportunity, to reflect on the future, and how Archaeology and EAA can be relevant and helpful. To get the sense of how important this anniversary year will be, let me quickly recall some important events that are celebrated in 2018 in 2019. Anniversaries are folds in spacetime.
2018 is the 200th anniversary of Marx. It is also the 50 anniversary of May '68. Amidst our present troubles, it is a good moment to ask if the utopias that one day our society envisaged have come true. And I am afraid that the answer is NO. I was very young in '68. But I remember how the thirst for renewal transpired in the atmosphere; that was even visible in a provincial town of the grey Francoist Spain. The following 50 years have brought us development and welfare. But they have also made stronger and more visible some of the forms of domination that Marx and the '68 had identified. I will not say we are worse. But that is simply because we now know more, and among the things we know, we know why those utopias failed. One of the main reasons they failed was because the total absence of a gender perspectivism, because the maintenance of a reluctant male-chauvinism, and because they did not question gender relations and the basic form of domination that emerges in them, … perhaps because sexual liberation was not a liberation of bodies, but namely of the body of men. There was some other reasons: because the necessary criticism of the Enlightenment led to irrationality; because the critique of functionalist positivism consolidated a simply individualistic relativism, the most beneficial for a system that requires consumers; because this subjectivism forgot something as basic as that reason is subjectively constituted, but the subjectivity is not the reason; because it was not possible to offer an alternative to the great superpower of capitalism that is the capacity to integrate every movement and deviation; because they forgot the main lesson that Foucault gave soon after the 68, the lesson of a constructive nihilism, i.e. "that only speak of revolution those who are ready to risk their lives for doing it" (at 1970, in The Order of Discourse).
2019 is the 100th anniversary of the Dyson-Eddington-Davidson experiment that first tested the Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and the EAA's own 25th anniversary. At that time, we will be in Bern, the town where Einstein published his major papers in 1905, to celebrate EAA AM, and we will join it with the 27th annual conference of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) that will be celebrated embedded with our own meeting. These coincidences are extremely appropriate occasion to reflect on what our real contribution from Archaeology and Archaeological Heritage has been and can be, for a future in which everything that seemed solid in 1994 has melted away under the pressing threats that challenge an inclusive and progressive idea of Europe.
Celebrating EAA Anniversary
To commemorate EAA 25 Years, we would like to particularly encourage all our members to propose sessions relevant to the main themes of the Annual Meeting that include the “EAA 25” label in their title. These sessions should offer a unique opportunity to evaluate what has been the contribution of the EAA to the proposed topic throughout its 25 years’ history, not only with regard to developments in the field, but also with regard to prospects and challenges for the future. We particularly welcome session proposals that reflect on the socio-political dimensions of archaeological knowledge and heritage, in order to facilitate the realignment of accepted practice with current problems and future requirements.
The challenge for us all is to use this very special occasion to think how Archaeology deconstructs the entanglement between everything that made us, to explore Archaeology´s ability to face the big issues. The Bern´s motto, Beyond Paradigms, remembers that, if paradigms become like the mountains, barriers that enclose our lives and experiences, thinking beyond the sets of theoretical barriers we have constructed will enable us to discover the fissures in these paradigms that, like the passes through the Swiss mountains, foster interaction and convergence. The Barcelona´s EAA motto, Reflecting Futures, remember us that Archaeology is all about the future because archaeologists superpower is to learn how the future came into being. In this sense, we archaeologists are magic. Archaeology has got the magic to reflect about how the future came into existence, and thus has got the magic to think about the future. Our main task should be to apply this magic in our daily work, and use it for the benefit of our profession and our societies. Instead of thinking about the solution to today's problems since yesterday, we have to think about the solutions of tomorrow from the day after tomorrow, using our capacity to know the retro-futures. This is what means reflecting futures and thinking beyond paradigms, an ability to envisage solutions by acknowledging that Archaeology is not a step back but a step forwards.
Therefore, since Archaeology is capable of searching the fold where the future pasts and present futures meet, is Archaeology not capable of mobilising a transformative understanding of our societies in times as complicated as these? The Opening Ceremony of Barcelona AM was also the first day of my second term. Thus today I renew my commitment to serve you all in the best way I can. Three years ago I finished my first letter to members by telling “many of us have faced up to challenges in the past because we wanted things to change. But now we need to be more realistic; we face up to challenges because things will not change. Things do not change by themselves. Things compel us: they require our absence in order to remain as they are; and they require our presence to become something new.” This rock song says this simpler and better: “the world is not going to change itself. That´s up to you” (Unfuck the World, Prophets of Rage, 2017).
Benvinguts and Moltes gràcies for being here.
Opening Ceremony took place in Santa Mara del Mar. Photo Alejandro García
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