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Session 10: Archaeologies of the Near Future

Format: 10 minute papers

Organiser: Jim Leary


This session invites the audience to imagine the role of archaeology in the year AD2220; a future world in which we are the past. It asks you to project yourselves, not into the past as archaeologists are wont to do, but into the near future – a future still two centuries away; a future none of us will ever know, but one not so distant to be unimaginable. What will that future hold for archaeology? Where will science have taken us? Will technology have made excavation redundant? Will there even be a recognisable discipline of archaeology, or will it have fragmented into multiple disciplines? Will archaeology still be taught in universities (will there be universities?)? Will there be a development-led archaeology? Perhaps our future world has no place for archaeology, no interest in the past – the hive-mind focused only on the present or future; archaeology a forgotten word for a vanished discipline.

Tales of utopian futures, of flying site vans, sentient trowels and autonomous digging devices are sought. As are stories of dystopic futures and Ballardian nightmares, extreme visions of population- and climate-wrecked worlds where the past is of no value or consequence. Also invited are accounts that sit somewhere in the middle – worlds, perhaps, in which people have learnt to adapt to their changing environments through the lens of archaeology – societies that have, for example, re-learnt to hunt and gather and tread lightly on the world. Papers should be original and inventive, and between 8 and 10 minutes in length.

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