Register Now! CHAT 2013 ‘Experience’,
8th-10th of November 2013 London
The 11th Annual Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference will be held at University College London from the 8th-10th of November 2013. Hosted by UCL Institute of Archaeology and jointly organised by UCL Institute of Archaeology and Atkins, the international conference will explore the experience of archaeology and the archaeology of experience in the present and recent historical past.
The conference will present a wide range of innovative new research on contemporary and historical archaeology, heritage and museum studies, as well as film screenings and artworks, to a broad interdisciplinary and international audience. A preliminary conference programme is available on the CHAT website.
‘Experience’ represents a significant concern across a wide variety of academic disciplines. We might think of the importance of ‘experience’ to sociological studies of everyday life; it’s central position as a concept within phenomenological approaches to landscapes and the past; the emphasis on the lifeworld in ontological perspectivism and the ‘new’ materialism; the role of experience within certain spiritual and intellectual traditions; the focus on emotional experience in studies of affect; the place of experience in the study of craft and in ethnoarchaeology; and the role of experience within contemporary educational pedagogy.
‘Experience’ is central to studies of modernity, which emphasise the peculiarity of the experience of progress, speed, time and place it produces. In The Experience Economy, Pine and Gilmore argued for a late modern shift from a service-based economy to an experience-based one: goods and services come to be valued not so much for their function, but in terms of their engagement of the senses and the experiences that surround their purchase and use. It could be argued that this experience economy is simply a reflection of a broader experience society in which there has been a shift in focus from ‘exhibition’ to ‘experience’, from the ocular to the embodied, in relation to processes of consumption, learning, knowing and ‘being’.
Increasingly, ‘experience’ determines the viability of heritage sites and dictates their interpretation: the contemporary heritage landscape—heritage-themed destinations, heritage-led regeneration and branding of place through the enlisting of ‘the past’—explicitly reflects a new concern with experience. In doing so, it exposes major differences in philosophies and taste amongst ‘professionals’ (archaeologists, architects, public historians, heritage managers) and the public. The practice of engaging with and ‘capturing’ oral history, which we might think of as memories of experience, plays an important role in contemporary archaeological narrative. Recent ethnographies of archaeological practice have similarly emphasised the experience of archaeology and its accompanying field and laboratory practices in understanding its history as an academic discipline.
Registration for the conference is now open. Fees of £40 for waged participants and £20 for unwaged participants will be used to cover the cost of room hire, tea/coffee, refreshments and lunches. Payments may be made using a credit or debit card. Participants should register in advance of the conference by following the link on the conference website.