Thursday, 2 July 2009

PFA conference success

The Pagans and Archaeology conference at the University of Bristol was a roaring success.
  • The first paper was delivered by Ronald Hutton, and explored the way in which one generation's archaeological orthodoxy was the next generation's fringe archaeology. Ley-lines were once all the rage with the up-and-coming generation of archaeologists.
  • Next, Josh Pollard explored the common origins of Paganism and archaeology in the Enlightenment and their shared interest in the past, and asked how better dialogue could be had.
  • Andy Letcher explored where the concept of Paganism as a fertility religion had come from (a trope that is rapidly losing ground amongst scholars of Pagan Studies, but is still current with some archaeologists).
  • Will Rathouse surveyed the field of relations between archaeologists and Pagans, from collaboration to conflict.
  • Graham Harvey explained the animist view of ancestors (which can include other-than-human people as well as human people).
  • Yvonne Aburrow gave a paper on the different discourses employed by those who want to retain human remains in museums, and those who want to rebury them. There are many discourses involved, but the most striking difference between the two groups was that those who are opposed to reburial are interested in the individual stories of the past and want them to be remembered, whereas those who want reburial are more concerned with a holistic view of the landscape and a timeless past.
  • Tiffany Jenkins explored how a crisis in the Enlightenment project that underpins the role of museums had opened the door to claims for repatriation and reburial.
  • Martin Smith explored the ethical issues around human remains, explained some of the fascinating things that can be discovered by scientific analysis of them, and pointed out the highly ethical treatment of bones by osteoarchaeologists.
  • Jenny Blain and Robert Wallis gave an overview of their Sacred Sites, Contested Rights / Rites project, and explained their response to the Avebury Consultation on human remains.
Afterwards lots of us went to the pub, and then some of us went for a curry.

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