Thursday, 27 February 2020

Roundtable Justifying Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record at EAA 2020, Bud­apest

The European Public Finds Recording Network based in Helsinki is organising a 'Roundtable on the im­pact of avoca­tional metal de­tect­ing' at EAA 2020, Bud­apest (Session #330). But since the session is going to be called: 'Beyond dogmatic and pragmatic: Debating the relative impact of avocational metal detecting' (or alternatively, 'Towards a Cooperative Approach to Hobby metal Detecting: Debating the Relative Impact of Avocational Metal Detecting') It does not look like it is actually be going to discussing the actual impact of this erosive hobby either on the archaeological record it mines for collectables, nor public perceptions of archaeology. Note from the abstract how the 'discussion' is skewed from the outset:
The impact of avocational detecting and its place within heritage management and archaeological research remain contested topics [...]. Legal and policy approaches concerning metal detecting differ greatly across jurisdictions, ranging from highly restrictive to liberal or even supportive, and many nuances in between. As such, the issue forms a microcosm of broader debates about public participation (community archaeology, citizen science, participatory heritage) in archaeology [...]. We aim to bring together authoritative voices from across the archaeological profession, and with different backgrounds and viewpoints towards metal detecting, to discuss different aspects of the detecting phenomenon. Following short opening statements from the panelists [sic], the debate will be structured along three questions regarding the impact of avocational detecting: - The preservation of cultural heritage - The research value of metal detected finds - Social and ethical aspects of metal detecting Confirmed panelists [sic] include Dr. Pieterjan Deckers (Belgium), Dr. Tibor Ákos Rácz (Hungary), PhD student Caroline Fredriksen (Norway), and Professor Sergiu Musteata (Moldova). Dr. David Wigg-Wolf (GoetheUniversität Frankfurt) will moderate the debate.  
No Raimund Karl with his dotty Bangorian views about the intangible heritage of metal detecting groups? That at least is something.

The session has a pessimistic theme: 'Sustainable archaeology and heritage in an unsustainable world' - Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero?

Now why the label 'avoca­tional metal de­tect­ing'? Why not just call a spade a spade and say what it is. Loud and clear: Collection-Driven EXPLOITATION of the Archaeological Record. Show me where that name is a misnomer, please.  But not at a roundtable, fittingly organised in Orban's distopic Hungary, pandering to the acquisitive desires of collectors and object-centred 'archaeologists'. It seems to me that having as the starting point of the whole endeavour a title that is an anorakish mealy-mouth metaphor is no way to begin an academic discussion. It thus becomes propaganda for hobnobbing with hobbyists engaged in dismantling the disciplined study of the past and turning it into a mere treasure hunt.

Why, also is this centred on the use of just one tool used for artefact collecting? Where here is there room for the discussion of lithics collection (for example in USA and northern Africa (Sahara zone) or Australia)?  Do they not provide the collector with material and the archaeologist some goodies to fondle? What about 'beyond dogmatic and pragmatic: debating the relative impact of avocational cuneiform tablet acquisition' ? These are - no matter how much the organisers of this pars-pro-toto 'debate' would want it otherwise, part of precisely the same phenomenon. Centred on taking material from the archaeological record to add to a personal collection.

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