WAC Ramallah Conference

Posted by Morag Kersel on behalf of the World Archaeological Conference

True to its foundational principles, the World Archaeological Congress will hold its first “Middle East” meeting to focus on the powerful relationship between archaeology, heritage and politics. The archaeology of the West Bank and its surrounding region is enormously significant as the location where the three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam — all trace their origins. Yet the archaeological and cultural heritage of this region suffers constant and extensive damage from political and ideological struggles to control the region.

Today as Palestine moves closer to official statehood, WAC decries the often destructive politics that define Israeli-Palestinian relationships. WAC notes the on-going damage to the archaeological record but also the potential of a shared cultural heritage to build towards peace. WAC calls for participation in this strategic InterCongress to demonstrate how archaeology can serve political ends for the greater good.

The focus of this InterCongress is on structural violence: the insidious structures and the stark inequalities that perpetuate conflicts. Structural violence is built into western countries’ relations with much of the rest of the world, preventing most non-western countries from becoming economically and culturally ‘equal’ to the West. Often structural violence is hidden and works without overt physical infringement, making it all the more effective.

As anthropologists, archaeologists, cultural heritage professionals, and concerned local community members, WAC asks what role archaeological and cultural heritage research has in overcoming these ‘in-built’ obstacles? Must we engage against structural violence outside of archaeological practice, or can archaeological practice confront and impact the ravages of structural violence?

Sessions and panels will be held on August 9th and 10th. August 11th and 12th are reserved for workshops, “hands on” experiences and tours of the region by regional cultural heritage non-government organizations. Closing sessions and consideration of InterCongress resolutions will take place on August 13th.

Participants are encouraged to propose creative formats to facilitate critical consideration and discussion of the topics at hand. Proposals for sessions of various forms: read papers, panels, poster sessions, roundtable discussions, or other formats, should be sent to the Program Committee (wacramcom@gmail.com) by the deadlines indicated below. Sessions may be proposed by individuals or by groups. All sessions, regardless of format, will be provided a 2-hour block of time to meet. Session abstracts of 400 words should include the contact information for the organizer(s). Paper abstracts of 200 words may be sent to either the session organizers or to the Program Committee (wacramcom@gmail.com).

A Selection of Sessions:

- Marginalia and Structural Violence in Past Societies
- Looting, Landscape and Law
- Structures of Dominance in the Levantine Late Iron Age
- The Bones of Our Ancestors: The Treatment of Human Remains as a Mechanism for Tolerance or for Intolerance
- Beyond Causality: Tensions of Time and the Relationships between Instances of Violence and Institutionalized Violence
- The Future of Palestinian Cultural Heritage

Deadlines
Sessions & Panels - Friday, May 15th 2009
Papers - Friday, June 12th 2009

Early Bird registration deadline: May 30, 2009

For further information see:
http://www.worldarchaeologicalcongress.org/site/ramallah.php

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