Toward the Middle Range will focus on the intersection of theory, method, and case study through the lens of the New Materialisms. Up to 15 participants—local, national, and international—will be selected for this two-day conference, which will feature both public and private sessions. Papers will be compiled into an edited volume.
As a study of human pasts, archaeology should be a process where various datasets (narratives) are woven together toward an inclusive science. But the question has always been: how can this be done? The so-called “New Materialisms” of thinkers such as Manuel DeLanda, Jane Bennett, Karen Barad, and others, ground things and places in the capacities of materials and matter, building toward the middle ground of a more integrated scientific archaeology. Through this theoretical framework archaeologists can de-center anthropocentric interpretations, flattening the weight of places, things, knowledge, and persons to be part of the whole interpretive package. New Materialisms deal with the various vibrant and intra-acting properties of matter at multiple scales: the molecule, the mineral, the object, and the gathering of such into landscapes, sites, and assemblages.
We seek to challenge archaeologists to strive for this middle range and invite papers that work on historical understandings of things and places between both theory and practice and indigenous and non-native narratives. We seek to avoid distinguishing Western and Indigenous and, hence, also invite to the table Indigenous scientists from disciplines other than archaeology who have been successful in integrating the two. We invite scholars working in all areas of the globe, especially those who do research in the Americas. We invite those with an interest in new materialisms, middle range theories and practices, material cultures and sciences, and discussions on ways to equalize the weight of mainline and alternative scientific narratives.
The challenge here is for archaeologists to use less-anthropocentric frameworks to look at archaeological or historical case studies, material science, collaborative projects, and the many forms of data in such a way that Native science and traditional scientific practice are given equal weight. Topics (material, human, or extra-human), regional focus, and time period can vary. Case studies that examine Native ways of relating to knowledge based in agriculture, botany, geology, geography, land-human interaction, and the many other collaborative fields are welcome, as are those that address archaeological case studies from traditional archaeological research.
After an introductory paper framing the topical narrative, participants will be given 20 minutes to present a paper, case study, or presentation. These talks will be open to the public, and it is up to the presenter whether they leave time for public question during their time slot or during breaks. A discussant or plenary speaker will wrap up the public portion of the conference, after which more specialized discussions of themes, impressions, and papers will be organized during catered meals for participants. These discussions will not be structured and are meant to be productive of discussion and conversation. The ultimate outcome of these discussions and the presented papers will be a volume to be published by the Illinois State Archaeological Survey.
Abstracts of up to 400 words should be submitted to Rebecca Barzilai (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Jan. 31, 2020. Fifteen participants will be selected from the submitted abstracts, and authors will be notified of their acceptance to participate in the conference. For those selected, accommodations and meals are provided. Some travel funds will be available.