Call for Papers: The Archaeology of Culture, Climate and Change: From Deep Prehistory to the Vietnam War in Tropical Southeast Asia

This year’s Australian Archaeological Association Conference will be held in Cairns, Queensland with a focus on Archaeology in the Tropics. There are several sessions relevant to the archaeology of Southeast Asia, so I hope to see some of you there! Deadline for abstracts is 27 June.

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Australian Archaeological Association/Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology Joint Conference 2014
Culture, Climate, Change: Archaeology in the Tropics
1-3 December 2014
Cairns, Queensland

List of relevant sessions after the jump.

Archaeology of the Asian Diaspora
Convenors: Gordon Grimwade and CHINA Inc.

Papers relating to the archaeology of migration of Chinese, Japanese, Malay and Indonesian people to Australia and New Zealand will form the core thrust of this session. Papers should highlight the contribution of Asian migrants to the development of life in Australasia through their material culture and archaeological footprints. This may be achieved via diverse mediums including excavation reports, artefact analysis, and comparative studies. Proposals involving contact archaeology with indigenous peoples of Australasia will be particularly welcomed. Papers relating to archaeology of sites within Asia or elsewhere on the Pacific Rim will also be considered provided that they make particular reference to the Asian diaspora. Examples of topics include Macassan trepang sites, Japanese pearling, Chinese market gardens, stores and mining, and technology transfer and adaptation.

Big Questions in Tropical Asia-Pacific Prehistory and Challenges for Archaeological Science
Convenors: Richard Roberts and Richard Fullagar

Recent surveys in various disciplines (including archaeology) have identified their 50 or 100 most fundamental questions. This session seeks to identify big questions of importance for tropical Asia-Pacific prehistory and the gaps in our knowledge, focussing on challenges and opportunities for archaeological science. We welcome papers on ‘culture, climate, change’ in the context of hominin dispersals and species interactions in this region, key methodological issues, and the development and application of new techniques. Current approaches to archaeological science cover diverse areas of expertise, including (among others) the geological study of archaeological site formation and modification; the dating of deposits, artefacts and fossils; the analysis of artefact technology and function; the chemistry of archaeological residues, isotopes and biomarkers; the study of animal and plant remains (macrofossils to molecules); the history of past environments and ecosystems; and informatics applications in archaeology (e.g. computational modelling, spatial analysis and data visualisation techniques). This session aims to encourage and identify a broad set of grand challenges and big questions in archaeological science as a focus for future collaborations and to establish an Australian research cluster in archaeological science.

Culturing the Rainforest: Cultural Adaption to and Human Impact on Tropical Environments in Island and Mainland Southeast Asia
Convenors: Chris Hunt and Graeme Barker

A generation ago, tropical forests were seen as virtually untouched wildernesses before Western contact, and debate raged about whether pre-agricultural people could make a living in these ‘difficult’ environments. New and emerging research suggests that humans dispersed successfully into tropical environments in Southeast Asia during the Late Pleistocene, and that a considerable variety of cultural and resource-extraction/production strategies evolved over the next ~50,000 years. Some of these activities have in various ways impacted on, even shaped, the environments in which they occur. This session aims to explore the variety of past cultural engagement with and impact on tropical environments across Mainland and Island SE Asia.

The Archaeology of Culture, Climate and Change: From Deep Prehistory to the Vietnam War in Tropical Southeast Asia
Convenors: Nigel Chang and Kate Domett

As the ‘Asian Century’ marches on, the amount of archaeological research in tropical Southeast Asia – Australia’s immediate neighbourhood – continues to increase. Human engagement with the tropical environment is an ever-present backdrop to archaeological research in Southeast Asia. Investigating our species’ response to, and influence on, changing climate and environment over at least the last 20,000 years in the region provides an important counterpoint to investigations in the temperate world. And, while some of the actors change, understanding the nexus of humanity and environment remains an important interest into the Southeast Asian historic period. In this session we invite papers that explore the complex inter-relationships between people and their environment in tropical Southeast Asia. We look forward to a wide variety of submissions considering prehistoric and historic examples and working from any archaeological materials and datasets including, but not limited to, human remains, artefact studies, geoarchaeology, palaeoenvironmental studies and landscape-based studies.

Archaeology of Tropical Melanesia
Convenor: Matthew Leavesley

The island of New Guinea forms a crucial part in understanding tropical adaptations in the Australasian region. Existing as part of the Sahul continent until 8000 years ago, this area is often neglected in pan-Australian discussions of culture change. Yet the Melanesian region provides both important similarities and contrasts to Australia throughout its history, from initial colonisation in the late Pleistocene, to the independent invention of agriculture during the mid-Holocene, through to the late Holocene development of long-distance sea voyaging and trading expeditions. This session will showcase current archaeological research from this region.

Challenges and Opportunities in Cultural Heritage Management in the Indo-Pacific Tropics
Convenors: Luke Godwin and Ian Lilley

The Indo-Pacific tropics are fast changing from land-use shifts, growing populations, invasive species and climate change. These issues have often great impacts on the region’s indigenous populations and cultural heritage. Successful heritage management is contingent on ‘buy in’ from local people, government agencies and industry. But questions of capacity or incentive or interest in managing cultural property also intrude. What options exist to address these problems? Local initiatives and government programmes are two possibilities. But where do the knowledge and funds come from? NGOs and IGOs are possibilities. But what are their primary interests and how well do they accord with those of: local communities, which can both benefit and be harmed by new initiatives; business and industry, whose profits can vary in response to such interventions; and governments, which protect their sovereignty and expenditure, but like to assert national pride and grow cultural tourism? What of alternative models including industry codes, stricter compliance regimes, or better education to help deliver sustainable and profitable outcomes from the presentation of cultural sites. This session invites papers on: risks and impacts; case studies; alternative management models; options for developing, funding and auditing new programmes.

For a full list of sessions and submission instructions, click here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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