Sessions at TAG 2013: visualisation, anthropology and connectivity

logoThis year’s Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting is coming up, and my friends are organising a cool set of sessions there. Sara Perry, Cat Cooper and Gareth Beale are hosting a session called “Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation”. Their key message is that visualisations are not neutral: they can lie, hide information, or enhance communication of a message. Whatever they do, a critical evaluation of the use of visualisations in archaeology is necessary. I would love to see some infovis and network visualisation studies there! You can read the full abstract below, or visit their blog.

Fiona Coward, Rosie Read and colleagues will chair a session ‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’. It will discuss the differences between the two disciplines in the past, present and future. See the abstract below.

Two other sessions that got my interest are those by Ben Jervis and colleagues: ‘ANT(ics) and the Thingliness of Things: Actor-Network Theory and other Relational Approaches in Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology’ and ‘It’s All Material Culture, Ain’t It! Connectivity and Interdisciplinarity in Material Culture Studies’.

For more info on TAG 2013 Bournemouth visit their website.

Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation
Organizers: Gareth Beale (Gareth.Beale@soton.ac.uk), Catriona Cooper (catriona.cooper@soton.ac.uk) & Sara Perry (sara.perry@york.ac.uk)

Decades of enquiry have born witness to the importance of visualisation as a critical methodology in archaeological research. Visual practices are intimately connected to different ways of thinking, shaping not only how we interpret the archaeological record for diverse audiences, but how we actually see and conceive of that record in the first instance (before investigative work has even begun). A growing body of volumes, workshops and symposia* testify to the centrality of visualisation in processes of deduction, narrative construction, theory-building and data collection – all those activities which lie at the heart of the discipline itself. But these testimonials generally still lay scattered and detached, with researchers and visual practitioners often talking at cross-purposes or working in isolation from one another on issues that are fundamentally linked.
Following the success of Seeing, Thinking, Doing at TAG Chicago in May 2013 (http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com), we seek here to delve further into such issues, concentrating on those bigger intellectual tensions that continue to reveal themselves in discussions of the visual in archaeology. We welcome short papers attending in depth to any of the following five themes:
(1) Realism and uncertainty
(2) Ocularcentrism
(3) Craftspersons and visualisation as craft
(4) Historical forms of, and past trends in, visualisation in archaeology
(5) Innovative approaches to representing the archaeological record
The session will be linked across two continents with a discussant in Canada as well as the main presentations in Bournemouth. We are happy to include speakers willing to participate remotely, via Google Hangout, and we encourage all contributors to add their perspectives to our group blog prior to – and following – the session: http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com. The papers will be accompanied by a roundtable discussion, where we will analyse the five themes—and related intellectual trends in visualisation—at an overarching level.
*E.g., Molyneaux 1997; Smiles and Moser 2005; Bonde and Houston 2011; “Seeing the Past,” Archaeology Center, Stanford University, Stanford, USA, February 4–6, 2005; “Past Presented: A Symposium on the History of Archaeological Illustration,” Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, October 9–10, 2009; “Visualisation in Archaeology,” University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, April 18–19, 2011.
Bonde, S. & Houston, S. (eds.) 2011. Re-presenting the Past: Archaeology through Image and Text. Oxford: Joukowsky Institute Publications/Oxbow.
Molyneaux, B.L. (ed.) 1997. The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Smiles, S. & Moser, S. (eds.) 2005. Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’
The relationship between the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology (social/cultural and biological) goes back a long way, but the nature of that relationship has varied hugely over that time. The papers in this session seek to investigate how archaeology and anthropology relate to one another today, academically and professionally, and to debate whether the disciplines should work to come together in future, or contemplate a permanent separation. Does archaeology offer anything to anthropologists, or anthropology to archaeologists? In what areas might closer collaboration be useful? Or have the two disciplines drifted so far apart that no rapprochement is possible or desirable? This session will aim to address these questions from as broad a perspective as possible, including for example papers considering the historical development and/or future trends of the disciplines, the academic or professional relationship between them, case studies demonstrating how the disciplines might benefit (or indeed not benefit) from closer links, or why they should forge their own, more independent identities etc.
All relevant details about the conference can be found here: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/tag2013/welcome/. We would like to invite anyone interested in presenting a paper in our session to submit their proposal by September 8th to Fiona Coward: fcoward@bournemouth.ac.uk; Rosie Read: rread@bournemouth.ac.uk or to myself: sschwand@gmail.com.

Personal Histories of CAA film

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 15.10.30A while ago I wrote about the Personal Histories of CAA session I organised with Gareth Beale at the CAA conference in March 2012. We are delighted to announce that the Personal Histories of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology conference (CAA) film has now been edited and is available on the CAA website and Personal Histories project’s website.

The 2012 edition at Southampton was the 40th anniversary of the CAA conference. We celebrated this event with the “Personal Histories of CAA” session held at the CAA conference venue on Wednesday 28 March, from 2pm to 4pm. At this celebratory session the founders, former chairs and key members of CAA throughout the last 4 decades shared their personal experiences with us. We were honoured that for this event we were able to welcome to Southampton Sue Laflin, Phil Barker, Clive Orton, John Wilcock, Nick Ryan, Paul Reilly and Hans Kamermans, as well as listen to an interview with Irwin Scollar. The session was moderated by the current chair of CAA, Gary Lock. The contributors discussed the advances in the field of archaeological computing fostered by the CAA as well as many personal social experiences.

We hope you enjoy this film and the many personal anecdotes it contains. We hope the next 40 years will be equally exciting.

Tom Brughmans, Gareth Beale, Pamela Jane Smith

Archaeological Computing Research Group
University of Southampton

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge

Personal Histories of CAA

This year marks the 40th anniversary of CAA. We will celebrate this event with the ‘Personal Histories of CAA’ session to be held at the CAA conference venue on Wednesday 28 March, from 2pm to 4pm. The founders, former chairs and key members of CAA throughout the last 40 decades will share their personal experiences with us. We are honoured that for this event we are able to welcome to Southampton Sue Laflin, Phil Barker, Clive Orton, John Wilcock, Nick Ryan, Paul Reilly and Hans Kamermans, as well as listen to an interview with Irwin Scollar. The session will be moderated by the current chair of CAA, Gary Lock.

Find out more about this great event on the CAA2012 website. And do also visit the Personal Histories project website.

Over the last forty years CAA has grown from an annual event at the University of Birmingham to a national and now worldwide conference attracting over 300 participants every year. It also lived through major changes in the role computing played in academia and people’s personal lives, through the availability of computers at academic institutions, the introduction of GIS, the affordability of computers for private use, the rise of user friendly operating systems, and last but not least the emergence and extreme impact of the world wide web. These events have strongly influenced the way archaeologists have used computing and quantitative techniques, and no organisation is a better reflection of this than CAA. The ‘Personal histories of CAA’ session aims to make the current generation of archaeologists aware of such dramatic shifts, and to provide personal perspectives for charting fascinating future research avenues.

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