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Archaeology as Festival

Virtual wanderings through festivalCHAT during Covid-19

Rachael Kiddey and William R. Caraher
Publication Year:
146 pages. Illustrated throughout in black & white, and colour.
Sub-series name:
Contemporary and Historical Archaeology, 9
BAR number:


What if academic conferences were reimagined?

This book provides a sample of the papers given at festivalCHAT, a conference qua festival convened in 2020 by the Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory group. Held at the height of the COVID pandemic and hosted entirely online, festivalCHAT featured a global line up of participants who embraced the unprecedented situation by probing the limits of archaeological thinking and experimenting with new ways to present and produce archaeological knowledge. The fourteen papers presented here consider the archaeology of COVID, graffiti, the home, waysides, chain mail, and urban staircases. The coordinators of festivalCHAT frame these contributions by offering archaeological insights into how they organized the event. Two reflective chapters consider the sample presented in the volume with the critical distance of two years and historical perspectives on CHAT.

The result is a book that is as different from a conference publication as festivalCHAT was from an academic conference. The contributors urge us to think about archaeology in broad, new ways as an antidote to the exacerbated sense of isolation brought about by the pandemic and our contemporary condition.

Rachael Kiddey is Teaching Associate in Heritage Studies at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. Her research interests include the socio-politics of the past in the present and the role of material culture in situations of forced displacement.

William R. Caraher teaches in the Department of History and American Indian Studies at the University of North Dakota.

Contributors: Tiina Äikäs, Lara Band, Alisha Beard, Cory Beeles, Annie Birky, Spencer Bullock, Tânia Manuel Casimiro, Dana Dobbins, Chandler Fitzsimons, Ursula K Frederick, Shawn Graham, Noora Hemminki, Shauna Keith, Tuija Kirkinen, The Kokra Family, James Lattin, Daniel Lee, Sanna Lipkin, Eòghann MacColl, Paul R. Mullins, Hilary Orange, Sonia Overall, Angela Piccini, Miriam A. W. Rothenberg, João Luís Sequeira, Mariana Silva, Katy Whitaker, Laura Zurowski

‘This is one of the most delightful and innovative conference proceedings I have read. The book has a wonderful variety of creative contributions where each paper pops like a wild flower in the green field of a rock festival. There are continuities and common threads (place making, networks, phenomenology), but each paper unravels a world of its own.’ Kostis Kourelis, Franklin & Marshall College, Professor of Architectural History

‘This is a really exciting and timely book that goes beyond the limits of traditional archaeology to respond to an all-but-unprecedented global situation. As contemporary archaeology continues to expand and become recognised both within and outside academic departments as a crucial sub-field, this volume provides an important space for showing the potential of archaeology in the present day and for the future.’ Dr Jonathan Gardner, Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh)

Introduction (S3120_Kiddey_9781407360539_-_introduction.pdf, 80 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (S3120_Kiddey_9781407360539_-_contents.pdf, 51 Kb) [Download]