EAA Statement on COVID-19 and the EAA Annual Meeting Budapest 26-30 August 2020
23 March 2020:
Dear EAA members
On behalf of your Executive Board and Secretariat, I hope that this message finds you, your families and those close to you healthy and well, and I hope that you are not experiencing too much difficulty in following the advice of your governments and health organisations.
The COVID-19 situation is as profoundly alarming as it is new to us all. It goes far beyond any recent challenge that we have experienced as citizens in our modern liberal societies. While the containment of the virus is the main priority for everyone now, we must begin to foresee the effects of this crisis in the near future and help to reduce the inevitable anxieties that the current uncertainty provokes.
This uncertainty now affects our planning for the EAA Annual Meeting in Budapest 26-30 August. The EAA Board and the local organization are following the situation very closely.
We are very aware of the speed of spread of the virus and the steps being taken at national and international level to control it. Travel bans, social distancing, ‘lockdown’ and closed borders are becoming a norm across the globe. We have no idea how long they will last. Nor is it clear how our national governments will react later to open up society and foreign travel once the peak of the crisis has passed.
Our EAA Annual Meeting is five months from now. This gives us some time, but not a lot of time, for taking a decision about our 2020 Annual Meeting.
As an interim measure EAA has extended all forthcoming AM deadlines until further notice and is now exploring the mechanisms to be applied in case of cancellation or restructuring with a view to establishing clearly how matters stand in three weeks’ time. In this regard, a special section on the EAA website has been created (www.e-a-a.org/covid-19) to provide you all with EAA’s developing responses to COVID-19 and our EAA 2020 Annual Meeting. This section will be replicated in the AM website.
This crisis, coupled with the expanding capacities of tele-working and virtual communications, provides EAA with opportunities for promoting remote interaction and participation in EAA matters. Understanding how important the presentation of papers can be, especially for our early career researchers and professionals, we are currently evaluating these possibilities to establish whether a virtual Annual Meeting of some sort, and the possibility to present papers prepared for it, is a realistic alternative. After all, our motto this year is Networking!
In the meantime, during this period of lockdown and necessary isolation, we aim to launch a humble alternative to support our members and interested public by developing a possibility to share accessible archaeological content via an online public platform. A separate announcement about this will be made shortly. We expect that this initiative will help us to evaluate the potential for EAA training facilities on-line.
Looking ahead, we all are deeply concerned about the impact of the crisis on the archaeological sector as a whole. Hundreds of archaeological excavations, surveys and other fieldwork have been suspended throughout Europe. This will cause significant disruption and damage to archaeological activities and anxiety among companies and professionals. EAA is one of the signatories to a letter coordinated by Culture Action Europe and moved by the Heritage Alliance that has been just addressed to the European Commission about the effect of COVID-19 on Creative Europe and the European Cultural and Creative Sectors. But EAA itself will also seek to evaluate the situation for our members and for archaeology as a whole. We will actively support initiatives that can help to reduce the negative impacts in the long term. We are at your disposal right now. We are anxious to hear your concerns and to get any input that will help EAA to react and to be proactive.
As archaeologists we know, better than many others, how history moves and how weak complex societies can be. This knowledge and perspective should help us and others to surf through the uncertainty and face this crisis with courage.
Personally, I convoke you all to take advantage of your particular expertise and the special engagement of scientific and narrative perspectives that archaeology represents, to embed the socio-human dimension in the analysis and resolution of the crisis and overcome the current merely biomedical approach.
Take care of yourselves and your relatives. My personal wish to you all is that this crisis will encourage us all to put care at the centre of our every personal, professional, social and political action, as feminisms have been claiming for so long.
On behalf of EAA Executive Board
President of the EAA