World Archaeological Congress


Newsletter: Volume 27 April 2009

Contributions to the next WAC Newsletter due 18th May 2009

Archaeologists Without Borders Workshop

Report on the website of the World Archaeological Congress

Archaeologies of Art Podcast Series Launched!

Call for WAC members to nominate Indigenous people

World Archaeological Congress honors Larry Zimmerman

Dr Andree Rosenfeld

Recommendation on ERA Draft Quality Ranking

WAC-6 Media Releases

WAC-6 Closing Ceremony Speech

Portuguese WAC-6 Media Releases

German WAC-6 Media Releases

Spanish WAC-6 Media Releases

Turkish WAC-6 Media Releases

Czech. WAC-6 Media Release on Iran



Ramallah August 2009

Overcoming Structural Violence

Ramallah | International Advisory Board | Sessions, Panels and Papers | General Papers | Session and Paper Submissions | Accommodations | Workshops & Tours | About the WAC InterCongress in Ramallah | Sessions | Travel Details | Registration Fees



Marginalia and Structural Violence in Past Societies

Benjamin W. Porter
Department of Near Eastern Studies
University of California at Berkeley

How does structural violence motivate the creation and circulation of marginalia in past societies?  Marginalia -- regimes of peoples, objects, and ideas found at or near the limits of our analytical, or our subjects’ cognitive, awareness -- has persisted as a popular, although conflicting keyterm in scholarly discourse.  Policy makers understand the marginal to equal the non-normative and the disadvantaged, while critical theorists recognize the hybrid cultural production that takes place in marginal spaces.  This possibly irresolvable tension provides a productive entrance into an archaeology of marginalia.

This session will therefore take-up the conference theme of structural violence through an examination of the mechanics of marginality. Twenty-minute papers are invited that address one or a combination of the following questions:  How does structural violence create and maintain boundaries between dominant and marginal regimes of social life? What are the varieties of social life in marginal conditions? How do marginalized groups reorganize themselves to meet the unique demands of environmental, economic, or political conditions?  Do these configurations remain shadowy versions of normative practices?  Or are new ways of co-existence fostered? How do non-human agents promote or help overcome structural violence in marginal conditions? How is cultural knowledge – science, magic, and technology, for instance – received, resisted, or developed on the margins?

This session encourages scholars to adjust or suspend their well-tuned theoretical and methodological assumptions that govern the discipline’s search for normative social “facts” in ancient societies.  Recognizing that marginalia are not guided by structural dichotomies of core and periphery, urban and rural, elite and non-elite is one important step. Maintaining a suspicious stance towards text-artifacts is another, as language and writing do not always recognize marginal cultural phenomena.

Participants should submit a title, a 200-word abstract, and contact information to Benjamin Porter at  A selection of papers will be published soon after the conference.


Looting, Landscape and Law

M.M. Kersel and Y.M. Rowan  -or-

This session will ask participants to examine the intersections of looting, the archaeological landscape and law. Looting of archaeological landscapes occurs throughout the world and is motivated by a variety of factors, but the underpinning commonality is that looting is an act of destruction: it destroys the cultural legacy of past societies, it destroys archaeological context, it destroys the possibility of richer cultural heritage reconstructions and it can destroy the pride of a populace in their past. In order to counter the effects of looting, governing bodies – both local and global – institute legal initiatives, but these are often unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. Looting, collecting, and the market for antiquities are components of an international economic system that combines legal and illicit aspects.

Many have vested interests in the perpetuation of looting in order to feed the demand for antiquities. Recognizing the deleterious effects of looting, most states have implemented national laws which protect their archaeological resources, or have signed international conventions designed to create cooperative agreements between market nations and those rich in archaeological resources.   Can legal restrictions work to protect the cultural heritage of a country or region, or are market forces too strong to overcome the incentives to loot? Do market nations perpetuate looting through weak laws and ineffectual political support for international conventions and reciprocal agreements? Are inadequate policies and laws an additional component of deeply embedded structural inequities that privilege the interests of powerful industrial nations over those of economically disadvantaged nation states? In this session participants present case studies and discussions about looting: the effects of such practices, creative solutions to looting, the efficacy of laws (local, national and international), and efforts to ameliorate the destruction of the landscape.


Structures of Dominance in the Levantine Late Iron Age

Reinhard Bernbeck
Department of Anthropology
Binghamton University
Binghamton, U.S.A.

Khaled Douglas
Department of Sustainable Tourism, Director
Hashemite University
Zerqa, Jordan

Azer Keskin
Department of Anthropology
Binghamton University
Binghamton, U.S.A.

The Iron Age II-III in the region between Cilicia and the Sinai is characterized by small polities, lands peripheral to an Assyrian imperial core on the Tigris. These Levantine polities underwent significant changes in their relations to the superpower of the day, but also in the relations between each other. Their dependence on Assyria could vacillate from inclusion in the Assyrian provincial system to semi-dependent client states to half-autonomous entities that were under constant threat, to outright revolt against Assyria. Their internal relations varied between being unified in resistance against the ancient superpower to each one trying to win over the sympathies of the Assyrian core, thus working against each other.

Assyria’s policies consisted of a double strategy of ruthless submission and divide and rule strategies towards the small kingdoms in the West. The former aspect is graphically depicted in the extremely violent palace reliefs in the urban core of Assyria, and narrated in cruel detail in many of the royal annals. More diplomatic ways of sowing discord between local polities are less easily perceived in the quasi-complete absence of textual material from the peripheries. It is thus the task of archaeology to try to identify political and cultural relations between peripheral polities of the Levant in order to better understand the complex web in which Levantine peoples of the Iron Age were caught.

We invite people to contribute papers to this session by addressing one or more of the following issues:

    * The material culture of small kingdoms and other political units in the Levant;
    * The cultural relations among such polities in terms of the public sphere (temples, palaces, monuments) and private life (pottery, figurines, etc.);
    * How such cultural relations opened themselves up to manipulation by imperialist policies of Assyria;
    * The presentation of new excavation data of the later Iron Age;
    * New archaeological data and how they relate to, contradict or complement ideologically tainted textual sources;

  • Papers that address critically the politically and religiously charged reconstructions of later Iron Age history in the Levant.

Please send abstracts of max. 200 words to:

Reinhard Bernbeck
Khaled Douglas
Azer Keskin


The Bones of Our Ancestors: The Treatment of Human Remains as a Mechanism for Tolerance or for Intolerance

Jon Price
Northumbria University
Ellison Place
Newcastle upon Tyne,
United Kingdom
+44 (0)191.232.7763

The issue of violent conflict carried out through responses to heritage are clearest when we examine the treatment of the cultural heritage of the dead. The desecration of tombs and cemeteries, or the restoration of desecrated tombs and cemeteries is a common manifestation of conflict, from the lowest intensity of social conflict to the highest intensity of warfare. In addition death is a normal and typical outcome of conflict, and the procedures and structures put in place to deal with war dead, or the civilian victims of conflict, are generally cultural heritage statements which often represent a continuation of conflict in a passive-aggressive way.

The dead bodies of loyal soldiers or war victims are integrated in memorial statements of political intent. Even in cemeteries where no violence is committed on the living bodies of the enemy, the dead bodies of the enemies or their ancestors may be used in a way which may have the effect, intentionally or otherwise, of doing violence to conventions of respect.

Civilian graves are excavated by the military to justify their own presence as liberators, or in the quest to bring stated war criminals to justice. Memorials and war graves created to maintain a political presence or to make a political statement are subsequently desecrated and re-dedicated in reflection of modern political conflicts which may or may not be related to the original wars.  Civilian cemeteries are desecrated by vandals, or destroyed during development.

In all these areas archaeologists are engaged or implicated. Forensic archaeologists work to identify the identity and fate of individuals in mass burials. Conservators work to repair and replace damaged memorials. Archaeologists carry out pre-development exploration which is used to justify or to hinder development plans. Can archaeologists engaged in these projects work towards toleration, or is their work always likely to reinforce intolerance and facilitate further aggression?


Beyond Causality: Tensions of Time and the Relationships between Instances of Violence and Institutionalized Violence

Kaet Heupel , Darryl Wilkinson and Anad Taneja
Columbia University

As Scheper-Hughes and Bourgeois (2004:1) remind us "structural violence - the violence of poverty, hunger, social exclusion and humiliation - inevitably translates into intimate and domestic violence". The linkages between the localized act of violence that occurs within a single moment, and the grinding, continuous violence of broader social structures have been well-documented by numerous scholars. However it seems that the connections existing between the microcosmic moment of violence and broader macrocosmic violence perpetuated through social structures, require further theorization. Any theoretical project seeking to engage with the relations between momentary and structural violence should contend with the differing temporalities they imply. The moment of violence -- the stabbing, the car bomb, the shot fired -- is often encapsulated within a single temporal frame, whereas continuous, institutionalized violence -- colonialism, capitalism, the state -- is often less apprehensible as violence precisely because it is more temporally diffuse.

In this session, we seek to address how these two forms of violence are articulated. How does the act of violence as icon and index move through social discourses and eventually become embedded in social structure? In what ways, and to what ends, are images of momentary violence mass-produced and consumed in wider domains? To what extent does the focus on the violent moments in historical narratives deflect attention away from the violence of History itself? Is it possible to theorize the relationship between momentary and structural violence in a way that does not reduce the relationship to merely cause-and-effect? How does an act of violence produce affect within different social contexts? How is it apprehended through the structural apparatuses that condition the ways in which such moments of violence are presented? This session is intended to be broadly archaeological and inclusive of all four anthropological fields. Submissions are welcome from scholars engaged in any of the fields.

The Future of Palestinian Cultural Heritage

Organizers: Lynn Swartz Dodd (University of Southern California, Los Angeles) Ran Boytner (Cotsen Institute, University of California at Los Angeles)

This session intends the meetings of the World Archaeological Congress inter-congress in Ramallah as an opportunity to review and envision the diverse existing resources for conceptualizing, protecting and developing Palestinian material cultural heritage now and in the future. The participants in this session are invited to focus on tangible efforts directed toward ancient architectural and archaeological heritage in which they have been involved or which they are interested in developing. In terms of looking backward, it is well known that during the past decade or more, there have been multiple projects designed to assess the inventory or status of ancient sites by a range of local and international cooperative endeavors. Looking forward, participants are invited to consider how these resources might be coordinated in an optimal way, both now and as a foundation for the official inventory or national register akin to those maintained by antiquities authorities in neighboring countries. Also, participants in this session are invited to assess the extent of these resources and whether they adequately reflect the diversity of ancient material cultural resources in the West Bank and Gaza. If there are needs for additional investment in this area, participants are asked to envision these by discussing the nature and scale of resources necessary to achieve particular outcomes.  This may include an assessment of frameworks relevant to the management and oversight of ancient cultural heritage in the context of a future independent state, including formal mechanisms (antiquities laws) and non-binding recommendations by professional groups and international bodies (e.g. ICOMOS, UNESCO). Alternatively, this might include efforts designed to create new perceptions and presentations of material cultural heritage. Participants are invited to assess whether adequate information resources exist to determine claims for ancient material cultural heritage in future negotiations with Israel.  Additionally, participants are invited to consider past and current efforts that have yielded tangible outcomes designed to preserve ancient material culture and sites, such as architectural preservation projects;  site rehabilitations and stabilization investments; development of cultural activities, centers or interpretive materials for the local and tourist population; educational investments in the current and future generation of archaeologists, heritage interpreters, and preservation specialists; past, present and future investments in tourism infrastructure.

The session will take the form of a roundtable discussion that will be structured through short presentations by invited participants and session organizers with opportunities for discussion and questions from other inter-congress participants.
Invited participants:

Nazmi al-Jubeh  (RIWAQ)
Adel Yahya  (PACE)
Ghattas Sayej (PACE/Norway)
Other Palestinian archaeologists have been invited and we await their response
Several Israeli archaeologists were invited (for them there may be constraints on attendance).
We would be interested in hearing from people who wish to contribute formally to the session.
The session organizers may be contacted at and


The Appropriation of Military War Dead for Political Purposes

Jon Price
Northumbria University

Using mainly the example of the Great War (1914-19) this paper will address the issues of how the burial and memorialisation of the dead is or is not controlled, how this reflects national and establishment position and control, and how the dead are appropriated by these groups for the purpose of perpetuating or justifying conflict. This process will be examined as a continuum, starting during the conflict, but continuing as a factor right through to the present day. Examples will include the post war treatment of African dead in Africa; and the re-appropriation of the British Imperial Army dead from present day Britain, India and Pakistan, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The paper will then touch on the appropriation of the dead from more recent and current conflict, and the response from affected descendant individuals or groups to this appropriation. Finally the example of the Western Front will be used to show how in Europe, despite this appropriation, the continuing recovery, by archaeologists, of war dead from the comparatively recent conflict of the Great War, can become a focus for tolerance and cooperation rather than intolerance and conflict.