This past weekend we celebrated the end-of-project conference: #pubarchMEDfin – Archaeological Practice and Society in the Mediterranean. And it has been intense, but I think I am happy with the results. Not because we were crowds, solved every problem in the world, or will have another publication out of it. But because we had the chance to see each other again after a while and have friendly chats on issues we really care about.
My first obligation is to thank all the colleagues that collaborated in the organization and participated in the event. Their help and support has been essential and I really value their commitment, especially in times of over-Zoom and digital fatigue.
Probably I am not the best one to evaluate the event (I have to admit it would be for extremely critical more than obliging), so I will just make a short review of what happened (from my point of view) and invite you to comment on it and criticize it.
It all started long ago but materialized on Friday 16 with a very short presentation of the project and some preliminary results in the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals, as part of the International Day of Monuments and Sites, that chose this as part of the discourse in this year’s topic: Complex Pasts. Diverse Futures. Right after my presentation, doctors Youssef Kanjou, Dimitris Plantzos and Chiara Bonacchi, joined in a round table about sustainability, that pivoted between new digital opportunities and challenges, and the impact of tourism with a predator neoliberal approach. It was the day with more viewers, with peaks of over 20 people in Zoom and 32 viewers in YouTube.
Saturday 17 was an intense day with ups and downs. The first round table, about the profession, was great (and intense). Doctors Andrea Martins, Chemi Shiff and Nicolas Zorzin, discussed very important issues about precarity in Archaeology and nationalistic approaches to management. We had up to 16 participants in Zoom and 24 viewers in YouTube. The break came and nobody showed up for the bibliography edit-a-ton, but three colleagues are collaborating with more references. I have to admit it let me eat properly and rest a bit. Because the afternoon came with three papers in the Twitter session, with a fairly good impact (at least I got lots of notifications, will have to see the numbers in the monthly review of social media). The day ended with the third round table, with architect Reem Furjani and doctors Ana Pastor and Lena Stefanou discussing about participation with some great examples from their experiences that fostered a very interesting debate. With up to 15 people in Zoom and 12 viewers in YouTube, lower numbers did not affect a dynamic debate with a good participation of the assistants.
Sunday (IDMS) started with two experiments: first the Instagram session, with eight very interesting photo-essays that you can see in the web (like the Twitter ones). Then, the Babel Tower session we had good lot of presentations from posters and papers that deal with communities (physical and virtual), collaboration, interpretation, commoditization, immateriality, precarity and the importance of an archaeology of care. Up to 20 people in Zoom participated of the session and we moved to the last round table on impact that would wrap up a bit the whole weekend. Doctors Francesco Ripanti and Jovana Tripkovic shared their positions, with apologies from our colleague Esraa al-Hadad, who had an unexpected urgency that made her miss it. We focused on several issues, from the importance of participation for wellbeing and positive impacts, to the harm our otherwise limited impact has on the political use of heritage and the raise of pseudoscience and extreme reactionary nationalistic approaches. Maybe a general conclusion was that we need to be more present in decision making processes and really open to the public with important messages that transcend the past. With up to 11 participants in Zoom and another 11 viewers in YouTube, numbers were low again, but quality was in the participation.
There will be proceedings of this conference in a Special Volume (4) of AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology. Hopefully by this fall. And you can find most of the information in this web under the tag of the conference.
Officially I could say that the project ends here, but it is not true. The amount of data and information collected is so large, that it will still take some months (if not years) to at least finish al the preliminary reports and products I want to deliver with the project. Publications will extend probably longer, focusing on other specifics and further updates. So, the web and the hashtag will still be open and updated with new content… the project might be over, #pubarchMED is not.