SHA 2023 – Reconstructing Meaning in and of Historic Places and Landscapes

Title reading, "Reconstructing Meaning In and Of Historic Places and Landscapes. A poster "un-session" for SHA 2023" and hosted by Emily Haines, Liam Wadsworth, and Steph Halmhofer is placed on top of a black and white photo of several people and dogs standing in front of teepee structures on what looks like an open prairie landscape. A house is in the background.

The Call For Papers (and sessions) for the 2023 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference is finally open, from now until June 30 (2022)! My colleagues, Emily Haines and Liam Wadsworth, and I decided we wanted to host a themed poster session at the conference. There’s only one hiccup – the SHA does not have themed poster sessions as part of their conference, only general poster sessions. We weren’t going to let that deter us, however. A quick email with the conference organizers asking about poster sessions led to the idea of a coordinated poster session within the general session. An “un-session,” if you will. Meaning that when poster abstracts are submitted, we can use the comment box in the submission portal to ask that the posters be coordinated together based on a shared theme, and the conference organizers are going to try to make that happen. So we’re going to give this a shot! Below this is our un-session abstract. If you’d like to submit a poster under this theme, in the comment box for your submission please write, “I would like to be coordinated with Emily Haines, William Wadsworth, and Stephanie Halmhofer’s posters.”

Abstract: New archaeological theories of landscapes, places, and assemblages have recently pushed back against the notion of strict artifactual changes and clearly demarcated archaeological sites that represent the historical period, and ask us to reconsider the agency of past individuals, their relationships with other beings, and entanglements that exist in the record. Across the world, archaeologists are increasingly incorporating non- or minimally destructive methods to investigate palimpsest sites that host layers of complex meaning and varied entanglements with past and present human populations. Marko Živković (2011:169) refers to such sites as “places of power” – places that have “accumulated many and varied layers of meaning.” This poster session seeks to engage with how we investigate “places of power,” or sites with multi-layered histories, by asking: how do we, as historical and contemporary archaeologists, interpret and engage with the relationships, multiple layers of meaning, and symbolic charges that exist at sites through non-or minimally destructive ways? What methods can we use, what challenges do we face, and how can we share this information with a broader audience, like descendant communities? We invite posters from participants who are currently working with non-or minimally destructive methods in historical archaeology. We encourage participation from those who are interested in methods, techniques, and materials like GIS, remote sensing, archival methods, oral histories, and spatial theories, and how such methods, techniques, and materials may impact methodological and theoretical aspects of historical archaeology and the sites we investigate.

So again, if you’ve got a poster idea in mind that fits into our un-session theme and you’d like to coordinate with us, be sure to write “I would like to be coordinated with Emily Haines, William Wadsworth, and Stephanie Halmhofer’s posters” in the submission portal’s comment box when you submit your poster! You are also welcome to contact us through my website (using the reply box below, your questions are not posted publicly) if you have any questions and we’ll get back to you ASAP! We look forward to seeing your posters at SHA 2023!

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