Everything, Everywhere, Everyday: The Undisciplining of Archaeology and Heritage

    CABAH/TARL Seminar Series

    Start 27 October 2023, 1:00pm
    End 27 October 2023, 2:00pm

    Presenter: Professor Tracy Ireland (University of Canberra and President ICOMOS Australia)

    Australian archaeology has always had a strong focus on the everyday and on the texture and pattern of quotidian life found in ‘small things forgotten’. An often-articulated aim of historical archaeology, as practised around the settler colonial world since the 1970s, has been the ‘democratisation’ of the past and revealing the historical and material conditions that underlie contemporary social inequalities. As several commentators have pointed out, the production of heritage is the production of the future. There is a Utopian component to heritage-making that reveals the competing political imaginaries of the time and how the future is envisaged as either built confidently on the legacy of the present, or as offering alternative possibilities where social change is possible. Recent research from across the Australian heritage sector reveals a growing dissatisfaction with the outcomes of established heritage practice and governance regimes. Imperial and nationally framed narratives of exploration and colonisation remain structurally dominant in the official heritage landscape but increasingly these have become flash points for deep community division – as demonstrated by the recent convergence of debates about the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s landing, with the international ‘statue wars’ and Black Lives Matter movements.  The Australian Research Council Linkage project ‘Everyday Heritage’ responds to this problematic by seeking to understand how different kinds of heritage practices can produce different forms of heritage. Using a combination of visual histories, material culture studies and digital or ‘hacking’ methods to turn colonial archives ‘inside out’, we employ images and objects that have the power to provoke empathy and recognition, sometimes in unsettling but productive ways. We see this as the ongoing work of anti-colonialism or decolonisation, within a system that has added to the longevity of colonial epistemologies - including the disciplinary boundaries between archaeology and heritage, past and present. Could an approach that accepts the entanglement of the traces of the past in the everyday of the contemporary, and thus in the politics and utopian currents of heritage making, mean the undisciplining of archaeology and heritage?

    Friday 27 October 2023 (1-2pm AEST) | Townsville 134-105, Cairns D3-003

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