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Bringing archaeology and anthropology together

The Wills Memorial Building where the conference will take place

The Wills Memorial Building where the conference will take place

Press release issued: 3 April 2009

A major reconsideration of the complex links between social anthropology and archaeology will take place at the University of Bristol when experts from around the world meet at the annual conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA).

Ian Hodder, Dunlevie Family Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University, will give a public lecture on 'Archaeology and Anthropology: the state of the relationship' on Tuesday 7 April at 11.15 in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building.  Professor Hodder, who was born in Bristol, will then receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University.

Other distinguished speakers include Professor Michael Herzfeld of Harvard University who will talk on archaeologists, anthropologists and the ethics of heritage, Professor Tapati Guha-Thakurta  of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta on simulating sites and monuments in colonial and post-colonial India, and Professor Roy Ellen of the University of Kent on anthropological theory.

Dr David Shankland, Reader in Anthropology at the University of Bristol and the conference convenor said: “Though social anthropology has had an uneasy relationship with archaeology, the transformations that both disciplines have experienced in recent decades mean that it is time to overcome this reticence.

“Throughout the twentieth century, archaeology has drawn extensively on the ideas of social anthropology and today, there is a growing number of practising archaeologists who regard themselves as fluent in both disciplines.  However, social anthropologists have not routinely studied contemporary archaeology, nor worked as a matter of course with archaeologists, resulting in a marked asymmetry in the flow of intellectual knowledge between the two groups.  This conference, the first of its kind, aims to change that by providing an opportunity for much-needed communication between the two disciplines.”

The conference, ASA09 Anthropological and archaeological imaginations: past, present and future, takes place from Monday 6 April to Thursday 9 April in the Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol.

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