State of the Field 2018

Archaeology and Social Justice

Friday, March 2-Saturday, March 3, 2018
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World hosted a workshop called State of the Field 2018: Archaeology and Social Justice on March 2-3, 2018.  The workshop was the culmination of two years of discussion on this theme, but is also raised new issues, asked new questions, and encouraged ongoing dialogue.

Our gathering built on a tradition of “State of the Field” workshops hosted by the Joukowsky Institute to reflect upon trends in archaeological work, each year focusing our discussion on issues impacting an area of particular interest to our faculty and students.  While previous versions have dealt with a country or region of archaeological significance, the 2018 event focused on archaeology’s relationship to ongoing movements for social justice.

Within the context of archaeology, we conceive of social justice as pertaining to issues of privilege and opportunity that affect the makeup of scholars in the field, efforts among archaeologists to engage with the public and with broader social and political discussions, and the degree to which archaeological scholarship and pedagogy intersect with or impact these issues. It also refers to the asymmetries of power and structural inequalities in society at large. This choice of topic was inspired by recent global social and political concerns, responses from universities and academia that seek to address issues of representation and access, and most importantly, grassroots movements for social justice.

This workshop engaged primarily with the role of archaeology in contemporary social justice movements, while insisting that discussions of diversity in the past can inform experience in the present.

Links to videos of the conference are below:
Keynote Panel
Sessions 1 & 2
Sessions 3 & 4

Pre-conference symposium:
Archaeology, Classics, and Social Justice: The Life and Legacy of John Wesley Gilbert (1864-1923), African American Classicist and Archaeologist, Educator, and Advocate

A student-led symposium on the life and legacy of John Wesley Gilbert, a black classicist and archaeologist and the first African American to earn a graduate degree from Brown University. Students shared papers incorporate original research from the Brown Archives conducted under the guidance of Professor Yannis Hamilakis as part of the course Decolonizing Classical Antiquity: White Nationalism, Colonialism, and Ancient Material Heritage.

Watch the student symposium here: Archaeology, Classics, and Social Justice


Friday, March 2nd
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

5:30pm – 5:35pm – Welcome and Opening Remarks

5:35 – 6:35pm – Keynote Panel
Whitney Battle-Baptiste (UMass Amherst)
Sarah Bond (University of Iowa)
Yannis Hamilakis (Brown University)

6:35 – 7:15pm – Discussion

Saturday, March 3rd
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

Session 1 – Constructions of Blackness and Whiteness

9:00 – 9:05am – Introduction

9:05 – 9:25am  – Nala Williams (University of Washington)
The Future is Black: A Critical (Re)imagining of a Black Feminist  Epistemology and Methodological Framework in Archaeology

9:25 – 9:45am – Matthew Reilly (City College of New York)
Archaeologies of Whiteness

9:45 – 9:55am – Vuyiswa Lupuwana, Navashni Naidoo, and Simon Hall (University of Cape Town)
The Archaeology of Remembering: Colonial Spectres and the Processes of Repackaging the Materiality of Violence, Displacement and  Disenfranchisement

9:55 – 10:25am – Discussion

10:25 – 10: 45am – Coffee break

Session 2 – Diversity and Epistemic Justice

10:45 – 10:50am – Introduction

10:50 – 11:10am – Nora Shalaby (Abydos Temple Paper Archive Project)
Reclaiming a Narrative: Untold Egyptian Histories from Early Egyptology

11:10 – 11:30am – Laura E. Heath-Stout (Boston University)
Who Writes about Archaeology? An Intersectional Study of Authorship in Archaeological Journals

11:30 – 11:50am – Debby Sneed (UCLA)
Too Disabled to Dig: In/Accessible Archaeology and Who Suffers?

11:50am – 12:20pm – Discussion

12:20 – 1:50pm – Lunch break

Session 3 – Material Memory and the Archaeologies of Resistance

1:50 – 1:55pm – Introduction

1:55 – 2:15pm – Marjolijn Kok (Bureau Archeologie en Toekomst)
Remembering the Invisible; Archaeology of Modern Protest

2:15 – 2:35pm – Rui Gomes Coelho (Rutgers University) and Xurxo Ayán Vila (University of the Basque Country)
‘An Old Woman Gave Us Shelter’: Archaeology of Resistance in the Spanish-Portuguese Border

2:35 – 2:55pm – Francesco Iacono (University of Cambridge) and Eleni Stefanou (Hellenic Open University)
The Past as an Asset vs. The Past as a Social Reservoir for Political Action: Comparative Perspectives From the Mediterranean

2:55 – 3:25pm – Discussion

3:25 – 3:45pm – Coffee break

Session 4 – Business as Usual? Engaging with Social Justice

3:45 – 3:50pm – Introduction

3:50 – 4:10pm – Christopher Matthews (Montclair State University)
Ethnographic Archaeology, Routine Archaeologies, and Social Justice Research

4:10 – 4:30pm – Richard M. Leventhal, Tiffany C. Cain, and Kasey Diserens Morgan (University of Pennsylvania)
Social Justice in the Maya Area: Reframing the Past in the Present

4:30 – 4:50pm – Claire Novotny (Kenyon College)
Archaeologists as Advocates: Balancing Power Inequalities for an Equitable Future

4:50 – 5:20pm – Discussion

5:20 – 5:40pm – Break

5:40 – 6:40pm – Closing Discussion


Please also see our Call for Papers.