A few people privately and publicly have asked that I post the program for the Conversations on Byzantine Archaeology meeting this past weekend. I hadn’t realized that the program was not public, but it obviously should have been.
Hopefully, the comment threads in blogs like this can continue the conversation beyond the meeting. In particular, I suspect that conversations like the one held this past weekend should resolve rather quickly into action. The last conversation, for example, inspired me and Kostis Kourelis to begin work on an edited volume that focused on the intersection of Byzantine archaeology, method, and theory.
This year’s conversation focused less (it would seem) on the work of Byzantine archaeology and more on the location of Byzantine archaeology at the margins of complex institutional concerns. It perhaps should follow that some kind of action focusing on the marginal and scattered positions of Byzantine archaeology should result. In short, how do we maximize the benefits of standing outside of so many institutional structures.
The risks of our position are obvious: I know that I am often comfortable sitting back and waiting for institutions to show value and support for my work. This kind of apathy or more positively (as Nikos put it in a comment on yesterday’s post) our “deliberate stance” outside disciplinary structures, could lead our field to wither as tenuous, largely personal networks of scholarly contact succumb to institutional pressures and our dispersed positions rob us of the ability for concerted actions. On the other hand, digital media and the internet provide a space for conversation and action outside of traditional institutional structures. It might make sense for the next conversation on Byzantine archaeology to happen in a series of blog posts or via social media. A recent conversation on blogging archaeology moved almost seamlessly from a panel at the Society for American Archaeology to myriad blogs across the interwebs, to Colleen Morgan’s blog Middle Savagery (here are my concluding remarks with links to Colleen’s summaries) and is heading to publication.
I was happy to learn that some of my colleagues – many of whom I had never met – read this blog, so I am pleased enough to offer a little space for informal organization and conversation. As most people know, the internet has come increasingly to provide a place for conversations that skirt institutional authority.
So, I am willing to offer my blog as a place for people to post their reflections on the place of Byzantine archaeology in the academy (if you do not have a blog of your own!). If the statements are substantial enough, we could look for someplace to submit them for publication or at least self-publish them as a small volume.
Oh, here’s the program.