Last Week Became a Memory Too
Last week I attended an international conference in Kiel, Germany. Technically it was an Open Workshop but in practice the format fell into conference-esque lines, with 18 sessions and 340 attendees run over five days. The primary focus was upon the creation of landscapes over the last 12,000 years, which centred upon dilemmas such as dating criteria, agent based modelling and glacial puzzles. The session I was asked to contribute to though, was on memory.
Convened by Christian Horn and Gustav Wallentz we had two days of papers and posters which covered notions of romanticism, rememberance, forgetting and nostalgia in contexts as diverse as long barrows and classical antiquity.
The keynote speakers were Richard Bradley (Reading) and James Whitley (Cardiff) who set the bar for how to interpret and express divisions of memory within the archaeological record.
Other speakers travelled from Laconia to Poznan, Rennes to Krakow with reworked sites and reimagined 'ancestors' in pottery and coins, spolia, myth, neo-paganism and literature. It was a session conceptually filled with trepidation regarding how to define memory within an empircal field which, whilst it didn't come to any clear consensus, did conclude that multiple pasts equate to multiple commemerations. I spoke about the Australian and Celtic seaboards, as well as defending a poster on my position considering memory to be a process of personal transfiction, plus showing the Layers film to its first scientific audience. For more full accounts of everyone's contributions please see the Kiel University website for the week, here.
Below is a gallery of the Memory speakers
These other speakers came from cultural heritage, Unesco, interdiscplinary thinking, paleogeography, lithics and luminesence. Debate was lively, rooms were full, the technology worked and coffee was plentiful.
Kiel itself is a place separated by its heritage by the destruction of war. A fine history hidden by the recent reconstructions, all very fitting for the discussions it hosted. It was efficient and the sun mostly shone on 38 different nationalities - all unified by the sudy of what lies beneath our feet. The horrors of Westminster seemed very far away.