1. Twenty-five Years after ‘Maastricht’: Archaeology and Europe's future
How do contemporary political and mostly centripetal processes within Europe affect archaeology and how does archaeology contribute to a more inclusive society?
In retrospect the post-war project of European integration found its apotheosis in the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties of 1992 and 2007. Today however, Europe finds itself in a state of political turmoil. The celebration of both treaties in 2017 is therefore no self-evident matter. Since the beginning of the new millennium the European project seems to have seriously lost ground in most Member States of the European Union, both among the general public as well as among politicians. The Brexit vote of the United Kingdom citizens in June 2016 has been one of the most important recent events in this trend. Public and political doubts about European integration are generated by a critical assessment of economic and cultural globalization and the underlying neo-liberal principles. There are multiple factors that contribute to this: the rising of a decentred postcolonial world, long lasting and severe, financial and economic recession, growing differences between poor and rich, large scale immigration, the increase of fundamentalist terrorism, the extension of a sense of insecurity and social and personal fears, and the rise of extreme and totalitarian ideologies. Europe faces a cultural and epochal crisis that is symbolized by the current weakness of the enlightened, reflective and progressive Welfare State. In most European countries these issues are being fiercely discussed and have led to political polarization. Characteristic of both right and left wing positions are a revaluation of state autonomy and national identity. At the same time (subnational and transnational) regions are raising in importance.
At first glance success or failure of the European project is not relevant to science in general or archaeology in particular. It is also not evident why the archaeological community should engage with this as a conference theme. On second thoughts however, the consequences for academic science in general and archaeology specifically could be manifold and grave. On a practical level for example, the Brexit vote already has profound effects on the exchange of students and researchers, the funding of UK-European cooperation and possibly on the EAA itself. On a more abstract level the rise of the importance of (sub)national identities both within society and politics will pose a challenge to (the inclusiveness of) archaeological discourse and narratives.
Participants are invited to submit session proposals which deal with past and present entanglements and future prospects of political processes within European countries and Europe on the one hand and archaeological practice and discourse on the other hand. In addition sessions are welcome which aim for a critical appraisal of contemporary archaeological projects with (un)stated political aims. How can Archaeology contribute to an emancipatory processes, to a more democratic and inclusive society and to cross-cultural understanding?