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Call for Papers: TAG 2011, University of Birmingham 14th -16th December 2011

October 5, 2011

This year’s TAG looks very interesting , with sessions that cover a number of things I’m interested in.  I’m helping organise two sessions, one on coastal and island environmental archaeology, and one on public engagement. Abstracts are below. If you are interested in submitting a paper, please e-mail me or one of my fellow session organisers an abstract of up to 200 words by October 31st .

Negotiating Coasts and Islands: Landscape and Environmental Perspectives

Organisers Matt Law (Cardiff University), Jacqui Mulville (Cardiff University) and David Smith (University of Birmingham)

2011 marks thirty years since the publication of Brothwell and Dimbleby’s ‘Environmental Aspects of Coasts and Islands’, whose contributions presented several scientific frameworks for interpreting coastal and island sites and the biological assemblages they yield. Much has changed in thirty years, not least the refinement of isotopic analyses, the availability of larger palaeoecological datasets allowing more nuanced interpretation, and an increasing desire by workers in both camps to bridge the divide between cultural and environmental archaeology. In the UK, there has been a particularly rich range of coastal and island sites investigated thanks to numerous research, volunteer, and developer-led projects. Coasts may be either central or marginal to past societies, and are ecotones that offer diverse natural resources as well as opportunities to spread goods, livestock, people and ideas. This session welcomes papers which explore recent methodological and theoretical developments in the study and interpretation of past human – environment interactions in coastal and island settings.

The How and Why of Archaeology Outreach: Case Studies and Reflexive Approaches to Public Engagement

Organisers Lizzie Wright (University of Sheffield), Matt Law (Cardiff University), Jacqui Mulville (Cardiff University) and Hannah Russ (University of Sheffield)

Outreach projects are a way that archaeologists can connect with and inspire the public. Done well, they can generate mutual benefits for archaeologists and the wider community, promoting the sharing of knowledge and skills, while increasing archaeology’s relevance and impact in society. Activities are often run by volunteers who put a lot of hard work into designing and implementing them.

However, despite the success of many of these projects, archaeology is struggling to convince the public of its worth. With the rise of university tuition fees in 2012, some university departments are concerned about how this will affect their intake. University departments and archaeology firms have started introducing outreach officers in an attempt to reach local people, and it is becoming increasingly important to have outreach experience on your CV when looking for a job. It is important to share experiences and assess the success of our projects in order to tackle the issues with public engagement.

This session aims to bring together people involved in outreach projects of any kind, and hopefully inspire more people to get involved with projects in the future, as well as to question how involvement in such activities have affected the way professionals engage with the archaeological record. The organisers invite papers on projects that have taken place, or on theoretical issues surrounding the idea of ‘outreach’. Papers which take a reflexive view of the impact of wider engagement on archaeological practice and interpretation are especially welcome.

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